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

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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

Success!

This morning was a boost. Those who know man and I, know our daughters namesake is the song ‘hey there Delilah’ by The Plain White T’s. I always hash tag #heytheredelilah on photos of her and today ThePlain White T’s commented and followed me on insta!! I’m so freaking happy. So much love

Meeting success!

I managed to get in all my questions and queries asked. It did help that the lady I met with was a true pro. A woman after my own heart. Organised, taking notes, friendly, listened and spoke (it’s normally one or the other). She was lovely. It was a pleasure to meet with someone so professional. I even managed to get into my work trousers (pre-preggers trousers) for my meeting. I felt great.

Man took an impromptu couple of days off, which worked out great too as he could take care of Dela when I was at my meeting. Dela had a few hours with daddy, visiting her great grandparents on his side of the family.

It’s the first time man has been alone with baby sincd September last year, and she was about 6 weeks old when that happened and as you can imagine she has developed since. So now 9 months (ish) old and first daddy daughter day. I packed her snacks and milk, knowing they’d be out over snack time and most likely over lunch because there is no regard for time and daddy is on his own watch (and only his watch).

I could lie and tell you I wasn’t nervous, but the fact of the matter was I was shitting bricks. Not because Dela would be alone with daddy, but because great grandparents like to feed great grandchildren shit, because they can be very ‘in face’ (I know because my grandparents are very much like this), because I have no control over what happens when my daughter is not in my care.

Relinquishing control is hard. I am a self confessed control freak. Despite my laid back appearance (and approach with certain things) I am 100% in control. I don’t like to rely on anyone else, and if I want something done I would rather do it myself than ask someone else. This could be seen as independence, which is something I’ve always been proud of and I suppose in a way I’m proud to be a control freak too.

I’m going to work on taking away any negative connotations of the term ‘control freak’ in my mind. That’s my goal for the rest of this week.

Being in control is nothing to frown at especially when we’re talking about your own children, your own life and the situations that you can control. I’m not (I can already hear your cogs turning) saying for one second you can control everything, but for the things you can – I say, steer away!

I digress.

After my meeting, I hot tailed it home to take the dog on a walk. He walked amazingly well for a change, and so did I. I found myself strutting. Dela enjoyed her morning with daddy. She didn’t starve, she wasn’t fed anything sugary and she was okay and full of big smiles when she came home for me.

Made a super healthy version of beef nachos using a wholemeal tortilla baked as my nacho chips. So good. Squeezed in making some healthy snacks, no bake peanut butter bars and oat and date energy balls. HEALTHY! Dela loves the energy balls too and they are literally 3 ingredients and too easy not to make.

It was a good day. In fact I would go as far as to say it was an awesome day.

Xoxo, L.

I’m Lotty Dawson

Sometimes you have to remind yourself of who you are.

This morning I was sat in my god damn PJs waiting for my fave jeans of the moment to dry. I felt awful. Not myself, fat, sluggish, and just had no zing. I was putting of a catch up call with someone important, a call I should have probably made yesterday.

The problem with mental illness, is sometimes it gets in the way and convinces you that your voice isn’t worth hearing. When in actual fact it’s the most important voice in the room at that time. It scares you to speak out with what you actually want to say and it can stop you.

All of a sudden, I surprised myself by getting my arse in gear and arranging a time for the call. I’m not sure where the energy came from but it did and the call was fixed within the next 30 mins. Initially I was just going to stay in PJs (something I rarely do), I mean it was only a phone call right?!

Wrong! It wasn’t only a phone call. It was THE phone call that would clear some stuff up, a call that I’ve actually been dying to get out of the way. A call I’ve possibly avoided because I didn’t want to put my issues on to anyone else, but it needed to happen. It has been an inner conflict and argument I’ve had on repeat in my head.

I got dressed put on my war paint, including my bright red I-rule-the-world lipstick and I was ready for THE call. And I’m pleased to share, I managed to say everything I needed to in a professional and honest way; and hopefully saving face for both myself and the other participant. Fuck you bpd – I win!

I’m going to wear my red I-rule-the-world lipstick more often. It’s amazing what having your zing can do. If you get your zing from a lipstick or a Pinterest motivational quote search; use it to your advantage- who cares where you find it. Get a healthy vice that gives you a little confidence booster and use it like you would fuel in your car.

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of who we are.

I’m Lotty Dawson; and FYI, I’m building an empire.

Xoxo, L.

A Sob Story

I cried because I looked at the pram I ordered. The thought “I’m having a little girl” came to mind and I was gone. I paused and got a grip, but as soon as I looked back at the cute Polka Dot Pram picture (http://venicci.co.uk/shop/new/new-polka-dots/) I was off again. I intend to post a review once we are using it. I’ve been told I’m not allowed it at the moment, according to my mum, its bad luck to have it in the house before baby is here. I won’t risk the superstition.

Apparently it is one of them days where I cry at anything. Baby D is wiggling like you wouldn’t believe today, but still not strong enough for her dad to feel. It worries me Man doesn’t feel part of the experience yet, and I’m eagerly anticipating the day that he can feel involved. I don’t want to do it all on my own, and feel like that will end up being the case.

I’ve been told I’m not allowed (his instructions and other family members) to not do anything too much and the plan to sand the woodwork in Baby D’s room and the stairs/hall isn’t going to plan at all. I did a mornings worth of work but the amount of back ache from doing so was crazy. I was ready to fall asleep in my tea that day. It didn’t particularly help that I’d had a moment of ‘baby brains’ and forgot we have an electric hand held sander in the cellar somewhere so did the work manually. Must get some new sand paper to fit the blasted thing. That’s a job for tomorrow morning I think since I’m finding myself alone again due to Man working. I bet it won’t take half the time with electric mabob, and I probably won’t ache half as much.

On the nail business front – I invested in a Trushine Gel System and I freaking love it. It’s an easy application and easy cure with the fancy curing lamp you get in the kit. It’s even too easy to remove the gel once you’re through with having it on your digits! I wore mine for 14 entire days and there wasn’t a scratch, a mark or a chip on them gels. So worth the start-up cost. It was £120, but this buys you the removal packets, base coat, top coat, a colour coat, a set of alcohol wipes for nail prep and the curing lamp. You can see my pictures below and considering I haven’t painted my nails in a year – I don’t think the outcome was too bad.

And on that very mixed note of a blog post, I’m out for today. But back tomorrow with a recipe – which there hasn’t been one in ages.
Love and best,

L xox

Bad Mood

I turned in to work this morning after an early gym session (trying my best to get back to my desired fitness level- but that another story). I got in to find three of the blokes I work with in their usual spots but one of the very grumpy. Now I work in a recruitment agency, so tone, mood and just general attitude comes across very strongly in the office. Stress levels are always high on a Wednesday as it’s the day we run our payroll. Everything went wrong, that you could possibly imagine! Time sheets weren’t in, time sheet were wrong, guys didn’t send back documents, we couldn’t get in touch with site managers. It was difficult morning, which didn’t help with the stress levels of my colleague.

With payroll finally complete a couple of hours late, it was lunch time and said colleague is normally up and away from his desk 2 mins before 12pm hits. He is, like us all a creature of habit. Not today. Despite asking him, despite telling him to take a break he wouldn’t. He continued to work, but also continued to be a complete grump (due to work stress I’m entirely sure). It got me thinking about how important breaks are.

Yes, it may just be half an hour or an hour away from your desk or work, but mentally it makes a world of difference. I’m guilty of the same thing, or at least I used to be until I worked at my current place. It cannot be natural or normal to sit in front of a screen for so long without taking a breather. Take today for instance. I’m sure if my colleague had taken at least half an hour out and went for walk no one would have died while he was away from his desk; everybody would have survived. He would have been able to come back from lunch with a clearer head, surely making him more productive in the long run. Our attention spans are not that great. We are surely not meant to work for such long periods without a time out. Hence, lunch break being so sacred.

So moral of this blog post; step away from your PC at work and take a walk. Breath in the outside air, make an excuse to sit somewhere new and picnic with your humdrum dinner and your work mates. Talk about anything other than work, but break it up a little. You will feel a whole load better.

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Next week I’m going to try the ‘Lunch Box Challenge’ – Meaning something different and homemade every day! I’ve been sticking to soup or salad recently so it’s time to mix it up.

Don’t forget to take a break tomorrow.

Love & Best,

L xox