Category Archives: Featured Posts

Anger

Business jargon and buzzwords. Are they driving you mad?

Amazing that we have become a society driven by social media and buzzwords, all of which have reached epidemic proportions.Social media concept

So, I’m” reaching out to you” to share my point of view about digital transformation, big data and google algorithms.

You lost me at jargon.

Are there any current business phrases or jargon that just makes you cringe?

I’m reaching out to you sends me to near anaphylaxis I detest the phrase.

Three times in one day, firstly by B.T. an insurance company and finally a comms company  “reaching out to us” to sell a product or service.

Touch base another perennial favourite; that phrase has been around since my days in recruitment over twenty five years ago.

I’d like to touch base with you offline? Why not say let’s meet up and have a chat?

a life less fulfilledBlue sky thinking? When let’s sit down and have a creative brainstorming session makes more sense.

Let’s be proactive? Isn’t that the point?

Thinking outside the box – an extension of the above thinking creatively without the constraints of an agenda allowing the free flow of ideas.

Thought shower – when let’s make time to have a half hour session and come up with some ideas sounds so much better.

It’s on my radar – err this one means yes I know about it and I will get to it.

Close of play or COB (close of business) err not cricket, by the end of the business working day

It will definitely wash its own face – isn’t easier to say the benefits far outweigh the costs, in other words, it will pay for itself.

 

Companies need to embrace big data and A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) sooner rather than later. iStock_000034282008Small

Businesses face digital transformation on an unprecedented scale how should we leverage the cloud to its full potential?

Personalisation, personalised segmenting and profiling are sure fire ways to get closer to your customer.

We must schedule a meeting to discuss the technological implications of compliance and governance and ensure that we have the right people ready for blue sky thinking.

Jargon all of it.

What has happened to familiar words in sentences that actually make sense?

Suffice to say I have banned all such business profanities from the office and home.

Let’s speak like normal human beings please for the sake for my sanity.

In the meantime, I’ll reach out and maybe touch base online with you again soon!

First published on Linkedin May 2017

 

female face with wrinkles on her forehead

Growing old ever so gracefully.

On a family trip to Paris in February this year tiredness had crept over me like a blanket.

I certainly looked my age. 
Wrinkles caused by ageing and anxiety clearly to be seen marching across my face.

To make me feel even worse, my beloved happened to remark ‘you look really old’.

I had the chance to leave the boys sightseeing one morning and decided to spend the time doing a spot of window-shopping.

There is only one place a woman must go when visiting Paris and that is the Galeries Lafeyette.

This was the first time I had ever been into such a beautiful department store and I have to be honest my intention was to go shopping for something affordable and under €250.00, I didn’t want to leave empty handed and without a designer carrier bag. I browsed the designer stores even though prices made me draw breath.

I looked at the various cosmetic counters and the array of beauty products as I searched in vain for the elixir of life – anything to halt the ageing process or at least slow it down a bit. I admit that I would have facial enhancements if there weren’t other financial priorities.

The nearest I come to corrective facial surgery is the cucumber face pack I apply on my face when I can remember to find time or the occasional standing on my head, apparently gravity helps with the wrinkles.

I am finding the ageing process challenging and seeing the changes to my face even harder to ‘face’ up to.

Classified ‘as middle-aged’ but really 38 years young, in mind, body and soul, I do wonder what there is too look forward too?

As one friend said to me ‘you look great from behind, you might even get a wolf whistle, just don’t turn around without wearing your sunglasses’.

Thank you G-I-R-L-F-R-I-E-N-D.

In the film, Steel Magnolia’s, Dolly Parton’s character says ‘these thighs haven’t left this house without lycra on them since I was 14’. My face hasn’t left my house without something on it since I was 14.

My personal trainer is working on the body beautiful honing and toning me to near perfection in order that I don’t end up with thighs that look like they’ve been hit by a meteor shower.

The ageing process is a dire business for a woman like a tooth extraction, it is prolonged agony.

I am beginning to see my body parts move at different times despite my protestations. My belly has a definite mound and I can no longer see my sagging vagina, which I hasten to add is definitely heading south.

I have been assured by my personal trainer that I look damn good for my age but I think she might be lying.

I’ve noticed that the inside of my thighs aren’t quite so tight and although I do my best to exercise them I can stand in front of the mirror and shake my inner thighs and my chicken wings to Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie-Jean’.

The heart palpitations are the killer though suddenly creeping up on you like a horror movie that makes you jump right out of your skin. As a friend remarked recently it’s the menopause.

I hate the word menopause almost as much as the word ‘v-a-g-i-n-a’.

Why can’t we call it something else like sometimes, but not always cessation of period, or end of life as we know it.

Getting old isn’t just about age and wrinkles. 

Attitude toward IRSI know I am suppose to be well behaved and set an example but that’s impossible how can I do that when I swear at one of the mothers blocking the school car park entrance with her spangly X5.

Move out the f**k**g way I shout as she looks at me horrified but my professional work appearance doesn’t match what comes out of my mouth.

I wear boyfriend jeans with holes and VANS shoes and I love those t-shirts with ridiculous writing on them my recent acquisition being ‘I hate Mondays’ and my favourite ‘I’m famous but nobody knows it’.

I wear my Nike air max with my pencil skirt or a suit when my heels and feet ache. I listen to loud music when I collect my boys from school and deliberately open the window in order to try and look cool. I occasionally let off bum wind, I can’t always control what my bottom does, much to the disgust of my children.

Don’t misunderstand me I am uncomfortable performing this bodily function openly it just so happens that my children are often in ear shot when I do.

please keep off the grass sign taken in england july 2007 I can’t follow rules or stay off the grass, quite the opposite, I jump on it. If it says ‘don’t touch’, I have to touch it. I pick a fight with traffic wardens because they deserve it and I argue and disagree with anyone who thinks they know it all.

I tell people what I think when asked and don’t always think of the implications of what I say. I love the idea of a book club but can’t stand the women who go to them, they are old before their time.

I am more aware of death and am acquainted with it because at least twice a year an elderly friend or distant relative bites the dust. Death happens, it’s not nice but do we really think we can live forever?

With age I’ve found a different level of confidence it ebbs and flows depending on the company I find myself in. A room full of women scares the heck out of me, yet networking with business professionals whom I’ve never met holds no fear.

I find myself saying hello and smiling to complete strangers in the high street even if I get the two fingered salute. There is not enough smiling in this country no matter what is happening around us a smile costs nothing.

And I complain. I’m not afraid to complain about food in a restaurant and send it back. I am more than happy to argue with a retail assistant about an unsatisfactory purchase and ask for a refund.

I love technology and laugh when my kids say mum we’ve got to get this. Unsurprisingly I am ahead of them. If new technology means it speeds jobs up or makes me more productive I’m all for it.

I’m waiting for the humanoid robot that can clean the house, cook dinner, hang out the washing, give me a foot rub when required and then my husband and kids will be obsolete.

I hate it when someone I know deliberately lies to me about their age. What is the big deal about admitting your age. It’s on your driving licence, birth and death certificate so why not say your age and be proud of it.

Middle age does have it’s downside. I regularly forget where I put things, I go upstairs and forget what I went up for. I suffer with C-R-A-F-T (can’t remember a f*****g thing).

I can be in a business meeting and trail off during a sentence because I’ve forgotten what I was talking about and have to be reminded by those present.

I laugh when I am with friends who are in their thirties or early forties and they are chatting quite merrily only to say something like, ‘middle age is when you are old’. They refer to the 50+ brigade like it really is old age.

Talking to young people is a laugh. I remember exactly what I was like when I was their age and no matter how cool you try to be you know you just aren’t.

In spite of this I find myself using their slang when I talk with their friends, ‘that’s well sick’ I say or ‘that’s safe’. I never use this language and I scratch my head afterwards, what am I thinking? They look at me quizzically has she gone mad, is she taking the p*ss?

ageI can almost hear them thinking does she really know what she’s talking about?

If Mick Jagger and Courtney Love can grow old disgracefully and have fun why can’t I? I may not be an ex-rocker wife but I do admit to a wild, mischievous and rebellious streak.

I act my age when the occasion demands but until then bugga bugga bugga.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Walking on Beach

When 4 becomes 3. The empty nest syndrome

I say goodbye to my husband and boys as I leave the beach an hour earlier to get a head start on the packing.
It’s our final few hours of our summer holiday and as I head off on my bike I watch my two boys playing in the sea their shadows silhouetted against the setting sun.

I am choked by the emotion I feel and my tears start to flow, feelings of love, tenderness, loss, at the same time a vice like pain in my chest and a sense of overwhelming inevitability.

What on earth has made me feel like this?

Another school year raced by so quickly it almost left Lewis Hamilton in it’s wake and with a summer holiday over it means another step toward my eldest son leaving home. Group Of Elementary School Pupils Running In Playground

I can’t wait for them to go back to school’, breathed one friend recently and I have to admit there were many times this summer when I uttered the same words.

‘Why is the summer holiday so long?’ another friend remarked, tired with her children always being bored.

I am grateful for the summer holidays, although I still have to work I get time to spend time with the boys without the busy school schedule, school runs and after school activities.

GCSE and A level results are out and many parents including my friends are facing up to the prospect that their 18 year olds will be leaving home.

They are on the precipice of adulthood and it’s the moment every mother dreads, your first born taking the first real adult steps into the world and then they stop needing you.

That long and lingering final hug, the tears and the fears, all the emotions welling up inside.

Last year I wrote about the empty nest syndrome whilst I am three years away from facing that emotional roller coaster ride, I can’t help but feel empathy for parents who are facing up to the reality that their eldest are leaving home.

chipiona beachAs I watch my children play in the sea on the final day of our summer holiday I am sad that their childhood has been stolen from me because the years have passed so quickly.

September sees the start of the GCSE challenge and I am worried that in this important academic year, a year that could change his destiny, it will be my anxiety that will dominate the relationship I have with my son.

All the conversations are likely to focus on what he should be doing, has the homework been done, will the coursework be finished and submitted on time, will the revision and planning be enough, what grades will he eventually get?

I am under no illusion that the year will focus on the end goal, the final results. There will be much to discuss and organise and I fear little time to spend as mother and son.

There are still things left to do that I desperately want my son to see and enjoy; like plan a trip to New York, go to Disneyland in Florida, see a band in concert all before he departs and leaves for good.

All of which cost a small fortune but they are things on my to do list, trips I want to do as a family of four and when I’ve done

it I will feel that I have given my kids a rounded education.

My younger son knows the importance of this year and when I mentioned that his big brother has only three years of school before leaving and then four will become three, I noticed how he bit his lower lip as he fought back tears.

In spite of their arguments I know they do love each other and the dynamic of the whole family will change when the other leaves. It has to and it can’t and won’t feel the same.

This raises a new issue when it comes to holidays. Will my younger son want a friend to come on holiday? How will he feel being on his own when we go away?

There will be an empty chair at the dinner table and an unbearable silence in the house.

This year is important not just because it’s exam year but it is likely to be the last year we spend as a family unit, just the four of us.

When the exams are over he will want to go out with his friends, girlfriends and party and will spend less time with his family. The transition from a teenager to young man will be complete.

Having quality time as a family, sitting down and having meals together will be the special moments to cherish. Family Walking on Beach

I still have things I need to share with him, experiences that might help him later in life like the adult sex talk, the one I remember having countless times with my mum.

And whilst I talk openly about ‘things’ he giggles and says ‘Mum, I’m busy, I know all about it mum’.

I worry that the time will ebb away before we say the things we should have said but didn’t. Will he be ready for his entry into the world as a man to take on life’s challenges?

All of this I see as my job as a parent and mother to impart wisdom and knowledge.

At the same time I’m reassured by friends who tell me ‘they know, you don’t need to worry, they know a lot more than we ever did, and we managed’.

I see our roles changing. I will become less significant in his life, whilst his life and what he does will be even more important to me.

I will still be Mum but, I also want to be his friend, counsellor and confidante. Do I ask him each night how school is and how he feels, does he need help with anything or do I wait for him to come to me?

Should I ask where he is going, what he gets up to, who are his friends and girlfriends and is he really okay? Just so he knows we all care and love him.

As heart breaking as it is, parents raise their children and prepare them to leave the family home. They have to assert their independence and make a life for themselves it is part of growing up.

A baby chick is encouraged to fly by it’s mother and as parents we have to do the same with our children, encourage them to spread their wings and learn to fly and stand on their own two feet.

Although I have three years before my eldest son leaves, I am already experiencing the feelings of the pain and loss associated with empty nest syndrome.

As a mother I never thought it would be so hard and hurt so much as this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The future of our children. Why I fear for my children’s future?

why I fear for my children's future

I had second thoughts about writing this because I know from the outset anyone who reads it will presume I’m the voice of doom and gloom, a voice of an overly anxious mother or maybe old-fashioned.

In actual fact I’m neither of the above I am a realist.

When a friend said to me recently nothing much bothers her anymore my response was “pretty much everything bothers the heck out of me”.

I’ve been penning this blog for sometime as I watch my boys grow into young adults wondering in this crazy beaten up old world what future do they and the rest of our kids have to look forward to.

The world has definitely become a smaller place. News is instant and you can pretty much stay ahead with what is going on in the world if you are on twitter or social media for that matter.

But with it has come a more sinister world where acts of sexual depravity, pedophilia, indecent images and generally bad behaviour seem to be the new order.

Have our children become anaesthetised to it all?

Do they recognise the differences between good and bad?

The violence acted out on playstation consoles, do they understand that unlike GTA 5 if someone gets shot in real life they don’t get up again and carry on playing they die.

There is no easy answer and is there really anyone to blame? Probably not.

All I know that as parents we can only be the best we can be.

“In England’s green and pleasant land” the final words in the inspiring hymn Jerusalem sung at many british sporting events yet sadly doesn’t seem to inspire many today.

The country is lacking decisive leadership, there is a pressing immigration problem, there is anger and aggression in our midst, no positive role models for children to emulate and a lack of motivation to work.

Apathy is endemic, some people believe they can live off the very generous welfare system not worrying how their bills are paid, we pay them.

We are supporting this system through hard work and through taxation. We are over burdened with financial insecurity, salaries haven’t increased to keep pace with the rising costs of living and still we contribute to the framework of this fragile state.

Labour, should they be elected, want welfare to be more rewarding than good old fashioned honest work.

The party established to protect the interests of the working class has effectively become the voice piece of a dependency culture.

A society where teenagers think work is a non essential activity.

What kind of society sets the tone for its future generation by rewarding those for living off the state and penalises others for working hard and paying high taxes.

The government’s plans to reduce the benefits plague is working but how long will it really take to be rid of the freeloaders?

Surely, the question that needs to be asked is why people believe they are entitled to live off the system and why they feel they don’t need to work?

It requires a massive cultural shift and a change of thinking.

The UK faces a wave of immigration from Romania and Bulgaria when the restrictions on EU freedom of movement are relaxed allowing a potential influx of some 29 million people who will have access to full rights to live, work and claim benefits in Britain.

The Prime Minister disclosed that Britain should not be seen as a “soft touch” for foreigners. (The Times 14th February 2013) access to all government benefits and services should be governed by a common sense approach. Access to housing, health service, justice which are the right of a british citizen should not be the automatic right of an illegal immigrant or any immigrant entering the country.

Fine words but under EU law (european union law) any restrictions or reduced access to any of the welfare services would be viewed as unlawful by the european parliament.

Our government, the one that creates laws, sets policies and  rules the country is based in London and not some distant outpost in Strasbourg, Brussels or even Luxembourg.

Yes, the european parliament has three offices.

The EU is intent on dictating to our government and indeed its people how we should live and breathe.

The last time the UK experienced a large influx of migrants was in 2004 under Blair’s government when EU rules were relaxed and residents of Poland were granted access to live and work here.

The Labour government under-estimated the number of poles arriving and the figure is now in the region of 250,000. The national census of 2012 revealed that over 1.1 million eastern europeans are resident in the UK with polish being the second most popular language.

Given that Romania and Bulgaria are the poor relations of europe it’s not unrealistic to assume that many will want to relocate to the UK for a better way of life and as a legal immigrant be entitled to claim benefits.

Who is going to support this?

The government are working hard to reduce the deficit left by the last government, the NHS is straining at the seams due to austerity measures and school classroom sizes are beyond the maximum number of pupils per classroom (30)

Annual births in England have increased every year since 2002 with the exception of 2009. Births in 2010 were 20% higher than in 2002 and 13% higher than in 2004. The recent projected population increases are likely to increase demands for teachers and classrooms. (Department for Education)

In 2012, the general population increased by more than 420,000, the highest birth rate recorded since 1972.

Six out of ten are as a result of rising birth rates which lead to  254,400 more births than deaths and around four in ten of the additional people are immigrants. The total number of people living in the UK at the end of June 2012 was 63,705,000 (Office for national statistics)

England has the fastest growing population than any of its other european union members.

What affect will this have on our infrastructure – housing, health, education, transport, utilities and employment opportunities?

Where does it leave our children? The next generation of entrepreneurs, critical thinkers, future industrialists?

As a teenager I don’t ever recall a society that was more disparate than it is now.

In 2011, Cameron in his pre-election speech talked about a broken society he was proven right when the UK was subjected to riots that year.

It’s not solely the responsibility of the government to make society better surely it is down to individuals, families and schools.

We must take responsibility for our actions. I am always teaching my children that for every action there must be a consequence.

How or why has society changed seemingly for the worse?

Why do we appear to be so angry and aggressive?

Britain is a far cry from the society I grew up in the 70s and 80s.

There was the miners strike, the cold war and the fight for the Malvinas which resulted in the Falklands War but our nation was strong and highly regarded on the world stage.

You would be hard pushed to recognise that Britain today.

Old, broken and run down like an old car. A broken society

A democracy that is frightened to use the word ‘black’, ‘white’, ‘muslim’, ‘asian’ for fear of being called a bigot or worse still a racist, fearful of overstepping the mark in case we are not politically correct.

There are 1,958,000 single parent families (2011 office of national statistics) there are children living on a diet of junk fat foods, children addicted to computer games.

Teenagers being treated for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) has doubled over the last thirty years and the marketeers who brand their products blatantly in front of our children lure them into the belief that to be part of the ‘in’ group they must have the latest ‘it’ item.

Why are children lacking in self-respect and pride?

This can’t be blamed on the government. Good behaviour begins and ends at home. As parents it is our responsibility to manage our children’s expectations of life by providing a loving and nurturing family environment.

But how can we when there are so many pervading external influences many of which we don’t have any control over.

Liberalisation and instant access to social media sites like facebook, twitter, Youtube and porn sites allow children to view the excesses of human depravity.

Rick Johnson in ‘That’s my teenage son” provides advice for mothers wanting to understand their teenage sons. He refers to adolescence as ‘dangerous times for boys’ and that mothers have ‘feminised’ them.

Being exposed to female influence and dominance renders them incapable of doing or thinking for themselves.

This is especially prevalent in single parent families where mum protects her son from the realities of life thinking she is helping him but in reality she creates a man who is indecisive, passive and unable to commit to a relationship.

Fatherless boys have no confidence, no self-esteem because they are afraid of humiliation through failure which is the normal part of growing up. The consequence of this is they become angry dysfunctional young men with behavioural problems.

Young girls are growing up too fast they are being ‘sexualised’ (the forcing of a sexual identity onto a child) into looking older than they are.

12 year olds now look like 15-16 year olds, they are dressing in ‘sexy clothing’, having sex, binge drinking, sexting images of themselves because they they are under pressure to do so.

It is part of the new culture of growing up too fast. We see it as parents when we drop our teenagers to parties, girls who look 16 or older, they exude a frightening level of overconfidence that belies their years.

Who is to blame?

The rise of social media sites, adverts, magazines, alcohol marketing, sexually explicit TV programmes, access to porn on the internet.

A society that is evolving and developing so fast technologically that we’ve been unable to keep up with the impact this is having on children.

Children know more by the age of ten then we did when we reached fourteen.

Sue Palmer’s “Toxic Childhood, how the modern world is damaging our children and what we can do about it” calls it toxic childhood syndrome, ‘there’s no point looking for someone to blame, no one intended it – the culture changed so rapidly that we’re only just beginning to notice the extent of the collateral damage’.

She goes on to write, ‘I’m not suggesting we turn the clock back on our cultural revolution, I love new technology, the buzz of twenty-four living. But in order to maintain the new global culture, we must acknowledge what it’s doing to our children and work out how to detoxify their lives’.

Psychologist and author Steve Biddulph talks about ‘a damaged generation that may have lifelong problems forming loving relationships. Never before has girlhood been under such sustained assault. The result is that many girls lose four years of crucial development.’

He goes on to say, ‘the current generation is utterly unique it’s the first to grow up exposed to hard core pornography.’

Teenagers by their very definition are feisty, wilful, insecure and moody.

They need parents who set boundaries and curfews, adults acting as parents not mothers or fathers behaving as friends.

Teenagers need advice when they ask for it, feel comfortable being able to talk about sex, alcohol, boyfriends and girlfriends.

In Steve Biddulph’s words ‘there are two weapons we can all deploy to help our sons/daughters grow up unscathed, our love and our time.

Fine advice for parents. I only hope we can make a change.

The only question that remains is how will the next generation of children turn out?

What do you think? Should we worry or is this just part of society changing?

Should we accept the status quo or should we be doing more?

What could we be doing?

Share your comments what do you really think?

You can follow us on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook and connect with us on Google+ and Linkedin. 

 

Exhausted, zoned out. Where did september go?

Stuck in a time warp
Trapped in some kind of time warp. Boom where did September go?

Ever get the feeling you’ve been trapped in some other time zone?

You know what I mean the one where you think whoa I feel I’ve done this or been here before?

That is a exactly what September was like for me.

Stuck in what seemed to be a kind of time warp? Going through the motions but not really ‘there’.

Bizarrely, I can recollect the 4th September, the start of a new school year, taking my boys into school on their first day back and then BOOM I woke up and it was October.

What happened? Where did the month go?

Can I have it again please? Errr, no sorry it’s gone, what da ya mean it’s gone? It’s over, September 2013 is officially complete, finished, done!

Phew. I’m exhausted already and with a only a few days left to go to another half-term I’m pondering where the last seven weeks have gone.

I know I’m not alone when I express my thoughts on this subject but somehow both mind and world have been very fuzzy.

Feeling exhausted, I’ve been checked for a hyperactive thyroid, diabetes and cholesterol under the guise of the ‘you’re almost 50′ time for the mid-life medical check up endorsed by the incumbent government.

This was me this morning, well almost!
This was me this morning, well almost!

I never have a need to visit the doctor with a complaint or ailment which makes me high risk for not being checked for potential stroke, high blood pressure and whatever else the medics can conjure up.

I’m good to go and very fit for my age. Oh how I love that expression.

From your teenage years right through to old age any trip to the doctor invariably ends up with the G.P. commenting, ‘well it is your age’.

What I am really suffering (if that is the right word) with is multi-tasking deficiency.

Life is a sprint
Life is a sprint

It’s the back to school routine you know the one, it dominates our lives male or female, mother or father, single parent or married parent and then we are suppose to fit work into the school routine.

Shouldn’t it be the other way round?

Schools clearly think we have nothing better to do when they decide the same day to schedule an event or to change an activity last thing. Obviously we don’t have a life we are suppose to live it around the school.

I recently came upon the idea of trading in my beloved six year old VW transporter for a fully fledged all singing and dancing caravan.

Easy, park it outside the school gates boys can fall out of it in the morning go straight to lessons and after school come back to the caravan do homework, eat, shower go to bed.

Still, don’t suppose the traffic warden would appreciate the blot on the landscape nor the local residents come to think of it.

Could work though.

Then there’d be none of the rushing around, car bashing, tooth slaying and punches that precede the entry into the school car park where grown women literally fight to get ahead on that ever shrinking five foot of tarmac they call the school entrance.

What is it with these non working women anyway do they really think pushing in gets them through the school gates and back home any quicker?

Up until about five years ago I had it all figured out I was pretty damn good at juggling any number of things, look at the logo at the top of the page of this website that says it all about me and probably half the working parents in the UK.

Multi juggler extraordinaire that was me.

Now I have to write e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g down. 

I love my gizmos and apps but I have my filofax on hand to write things down so I dont forget.

In fact I’ve been known to write things I need to get from upstairs before I actually make the trip. Because you can bet your bottom dollar by the time I get upstairs you guessed it, I’ve forgotten what it was I went up there for in the first place. 

I certainly can’t manage more than two tasks, let alone spin too many plates in the air all at once.

What has happened why has it all gone to hell?

Too bogged down in life, work, school routine. I’ve fallen off the time management wagon.

Fallen off the time management wagon never mind the booze!
Fallen off the time management wagon never mind the booze!

So much for me spouting off in this blog here about the wonders of time management and me daring to tell you what I do when I can’t even manage it myself.

I am full of c**p sometimes but I mean well.

What have I done to get control back in to my life again?

Still working on it but I’ve gone back to using my diary and time manager p-r-o-p-e-r-l-y and stick to what I need to get done by when and so far it seems to be working.

I’m definitely calmer and more organised.

Somehow I was seduced by the long hot summer and the how it would feel if I never had to work again dream...

Yes you are of course right DREAM ON…

How was your start to the new school year?

Tell me what you’ve been doing to stay on the straight and narrow?

Share your ideas on what does or doesn’t work for you.

Until next time.

Find me on twitter, facebook and Pinterest or connect with me on google+ and linkedin by hitting the social media buttons.

 

 

 

Sticky labels on boxes, fruit, tin cans, packaging and everything else in between

Stickey labels

This morning I received my new digital moleskin book.

I’m a massive fan of moleskin because I love to sketch, draw (try hard) and make notes.

The beauty of my new notebook is that I can take a picture of the sketch or drawing and then upload it into evernote which is one of favourite apps.

But that is not why I’m ranting.

The box it came in really just vexed me beyond belief.

It was covered in tape with a seal warranty or even a warranty seal depending on which way up you were looking at it and I couldn’t get into it not for the love of trying.

I stabbed it, stomped on it, I even tried to rip the box apart.  I used a pen-knife, I asked a colleague who swore and lobbed it back at me and then finally using a long pair of scissors to slice through the almost impenetrable tape I was able to view my recent purchase.

It took blood sweat and tears to get through that lot, I’m not kidding.

I appreciate that it had travelled a long distance, Italy to the UK to be exact and therefore needed to be packaged accordingly but is it just me or is everything so overly packaged that it makes it almost impossible, make that impenetrable to break into.

Therefore the joy of receiving something new goes out the window.

Take for example some recent purchases that I ordered. The plastic packaging was so hard core durable it probably could have withstood being thrown off a building and still remain intact. I gave up in the end and left it for my beloved to have a go.

Even he sweated trying to get through the packaging!

Getting into most packaging these days is a little like trying to break out of prison – actually its easier to break out of prison than it is to get into a packet of jelly.

Trying to open a can of well known fizzy pop the other day minus one broken nail and a really hacked off consumer made me vow I’d never drink this well known fizzy drink again.

My mother gave me a great plastic gadget a little like a can opener to prise open cans but when I want a coke do I really want to have this gizmo in my handbag? I think not.

Sticky labels the bane of our lives
Sticky labels the bane of our lives.

As for plastic packaging, retailers insist it is to keep products fresh consumers including me want to be able to open the damn product preferably before we are dead and not have to drop it from the house roof to open it.

Yesterday I was trying to open a bag of flour, it wasn’t paper it was plastic which in principle seemed a great replacement for the old paper version which invariably leaked out plumes of dust in your cupboard.

Guess what, following the instructions proved to be a complete waste of time not only did it test my intellectual ability or lack of it because I resorted to stabbing the package with a pair of scissors to it.

Clothing is another irritant of mine why do retailers insist on putting the plastic t-thingys with the label in obscure places like right inside a seam so when you cut it the plastic T thingy disappears inside the garment or worst still on the inside of the collar label so you physically have to try and turn the garment upside down and the label inside out which won’t turn inside out as its folded over in two and stitched into the collar making it impossible to remove.

Certain retailers insist on using multiple T-plastic thingys because they’ve decided to discount the product on two further occasions and now you end up with three of these T-plastic thingys to contend with and by the time I’ve gotten to my fourth article of kids clothing I’ve been at it for almost half an hour, a waste of my time.

Of course when you cut these T-thingys off the T bit invariably gets lost on the floor only to be discovered in your socks or knicker draw months later causing a conundrum as you wonder how in gods name it got there in the first place.

I literally bounce off the walls with frustration is it just me that feels this way about packaging and sticky labels?

Take our supermarket produce.

Those beautifully presented tomatoes in packages or the perfectly oval aubergines. Guess what we don’t care what they look like we want great tasting produce that actually tastes like a tomato and not something so nondescript that if I was blindfolded I could describe it in two words ‘wet and slimy’ which pretty much covers it.

Packaging is the demise of our fair nation and the world, we are piling it up and re-piling and then we are told by government and local councils we must do more to recycle.

Why don’t they tell the retailers to stop overloading us with packaging that would be a great start.

Consumers should be able to remove the packaging on the premises of the retailer from which they have bought the product from assuming they like it and they are happy with it leaving the retailer to dispense with the packaging.

There should be a disclaimer on all products that says if it causes harm in any way, the consumer is entitled to a discount. After all how many times have you opened some packaging and cut yourself? I have!

Stickers everywhere on CD’s, boxes, packaging, pencils, inside the label of your underwear, the tiny labels saying they’ve been quality tested.

HOW? By wearing them ten times before packaging them?

Months later you find a quality label inside your knickers and you thought you had removed all of them, worse still it’s stuck in an unmentionable place.

What about the labels on the skin of fruit?

Then there is the industrial strength super-glue type label applied to your product that even if you manage to remove it, it still leaves a lovely sticky adhesive residue which then attracts dust and sticks to pretty much anything else. Try selecting that CD from your collection only to pull the CD rack off the wall such is the strength of the glue.

And what about the labels that hide the cost of things especially on books? That really annoys me.

The worst sin has to be the sticker that looks like a sticker but isn’t at all. It has been integrated as part of the design of the product or book cover so you think it looks like a label and you try to remove it only to find the buy one get one free is here to stay for eternity.

 

 

 

 

If Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus…

men are from mars women are from venus
If men are from mars and women are from venus then my husband is from pluto

then my husband is definitely from Pluto!

The infamous and definitive relationship guide written by John Gray dispells the myths that marriages can work successfully and harmoniously as long as communication works and is in the same language.

This is my version of why Men are from Mars and women are from venus and why men seem to have this amazing propensity to wind women up to cataclysmic rather than orgasmic heights!

My recent debacle on Monday night with my beloved compelled me to write my version on why I believe men are from another planet.

Here’s what happened on a recent Monday night!

After a long working day, picking up the children from School I look forward to Monday night’s because it is the only day we arrive home at 5PM, aka respectable time and it means there are only 4 days left of the working week or if you are a working mother like me then 6 days.

Big M my husband graciously does the weekly food shopping!

Yes, shock and horror I hear you say but he learned very early on in our relationship that if he wasn’t going to starve  he would have to do it.

Instead of me complaining how hideously expensive everything is and that he never goes shopping, I get the groans about the cost of food items and I don’t suffer the “you never buy this or that” so it suits both parties.

The prospect of fighting my way through the supermarket in search of is not my idea of fun.

I prefer a tooth extraction than to be subjected to women fighting over who got there first, in fact I get heart palpitations at the thought of shopping.

I should point out he loves doing it, he calls it his downtime?

Anyway back to the Monday in question.

We’ve been sampling these rather marvellous pre-made meat puddings from Waitrose.

Something that for once doesn’t require me making, preparing or doing anything.

Cooking bliss just pop in the oven for 35 minutes serve with potatoes and veggies.

At 6PM I get a call from Big M, he’s on the Motorway travelling back from London. I ask him “would you like me to put your dinner on?”

“No” came back the response “I don’t know what the traffic is going to be like on the M1. If the pud takes takes 35 minutes then I can take a shower when I get in and not have to rush”.

Simply put don’t put dinner into the oven until I get in.

I hear a shout from upstairs from one of my children that Dad has arrived home. As I was in the throes of baking a cake in went the meat pudding.

And this is what happened next…

Big M : Hi everyone, how’s your day been, where’s my dinner? – the inference was with a slightly sarcastic tone as he walked into the kitchen.

This is how I interpret the above comment:

Typical, I’ve been working all day and you haven’t got my dinner yet? 

Forget the fact I run a business, ferry the children back and forth to school, am responsible for their education, take them to their after school activities four times a week, remember who does what, when, where, cooks, washes, cleans, can’t claim ironing actually that one’s outsourced.

Provide emotional, physical and mental support to and in no particular order, children, husband, friends, co-workers, postman, milkman.

God I’m exhausted just writing this…

And the dinner wasn’t ready OMG call United Nations and sack me now as a wife mother and lover (last one debatable)

Me: Hi hun, dinner’s in the oven it will be another 30 minutes or so.

This is what I’m processing: you did tell me you complete a**e-h**e to wait to put the dinner on until you got home! Give me that bread knife now and don’t get any closer to me.. grrrr.

Big M: Great I come home from a long day and there’s no dinner. By the way what’s going with it.

Me: Nothing yet.

Now beginning to seethe with anger. Like he’s the only one that works around here and contributes to the greater good. 

Sometimes the connection between men and women just misses.
I sometimes feel I get a better response from my kitchen walls.

P-L-E-A-S-E.

Big M: Great nice to know you care about me.

I’m thinking: Oh for god sake Mr “I am so emotionally dependent”, grow up.

Me: Thanks for that. How about peas?

Big M: What about Potatoes?

Me: Do you need potatoes? I thought you wanted to cut back on carbs aka waistline.

Big M: don’t appreciate the back handed comment, thanks a lot. Forget it I’ll get my own dinner sorted???

At this point I remain calm but in my head I’m screaming damned if I do damned if I don’t I try to look out for you and now I’m being criticised for referencing potatoes to your waistline. Next week you’ll be asking me to be strict with what you eat and drink, funny how the pendulum swings.

Clearly you’ve had a bad day! When have you ever gone without dinner and what’s got into you anyway. I’ve had a busy day too and if your not happy MOVE OUT.

We’ve gone from a peaceful and contented evening with kids upstairs doing homework to the potential outbreak of WW3 in my kitchen.

But then it goes from bad to worse because he says:

“What’s the matter with you why are you in a bad mood?

(Do I need semaphore to explain why I’m p****d off.)

All I asked is why dinner wasn’t ready… god do we have to repeat this again”.

And this is the cliff hanger because he then says:

“it must be the HRT tablets making you moody”.

Tell me why is that men have to reference how women react or behave to a set of pills we might be taking for an ailment or because we are MENOPAUSAL or, at that “special time of the month again”.

Funny because before Big M walked in I was feeling really rather happy!

Sending my man on a rocket back to Pluto
Can you go back from where you came from please?

Men we can’t live with them and we can’t live without them.

Until my next run in with Big M!

Do you have the same communication issues with your partner? Do you feel that sometimes you may as well be talking to the wall?

Please share your funny, sad, serious moments with us we would love to know.

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Boomerang children. Do our children ever stop needing us?

Much has been written about empty nest syndrome the feeling of loss that strikes the heart and soul of many a parent when the first child leaves home for University, work or to travel the world.

Do our children still need us?
Do our children still need us?

Moving on and moving out are probably the most important steps teenagers take into the world having been reasonably cosseted at home for the first eighteen years.

It’s a big step for them as it moves them toward adulthood and independence and although the move is a physical one for the children, for the parents it is emotional as they are left with feelings of loss and emptiness not too dissimilar to grief.

Celia Cochrane, 64 and a mother of 3 sons says “although its a long time ago I do remember the feeling of emptiness. It was hard for the other 2 boys especially Adam, my youngest who was left behind after my two eldest went off to University”.

Deborah Burgoine, 49 is recently coming to terms with her 18 year old daughter going to University “it’s really hard, even now I miss her despite the rows but our relationship seems closer since she’s been away. But from age 13-17 our household was like a teenage war zone”.

With spiralling tuition fees many students leave further education in debt and with the long dispelled myth that a degree doesn’t lead to a highly paid job and with many graduates competing for very few jobs, attaining the first step on the property ladder almost impossible, parents are faced with the sobering thought that the children they said good bye to three to four years ago are returning to the family home.

In fact approximately 1.7 million people between the age of 20 and 40 are living with their parents as a result of further education debt and the crippling cost of property.

23 year olds returning to the family home after higher education are unlikely to leave before they are 26 years.

A situation that places strain on both parents and children. No parent expects to see the return of their offspring even for a short hiatus but the facts are that one in four of 2011 graduates had part-time jobs six months after having graduated and one in ten were unemployed.

But have the new modern parents made it too easy for their offspring to return to the nest? The “helicopter parent” that hovers over their children throughout primary and secondary schooling has resulted in a new generation of children unable or incapable of becoming self sufficient.

Parents are guilty of not pushing their children into independence. Washing, ironing, cleaning and providing the parent taxi service to take them everywhere means they’ve become dependent on parents making them ill-equipped to handle the reality that is real life.

Leaving aside the stark economic facts, this new generation of “boomerang kids” have an inflated sense of self worth which is not compatible with the realities of the current world we live.

Many of these students believe they are so talented and that employers would be foolish to overlook them, in short, they feel they can walk into any high paying job at the expense of years of experience.

Unfortunately when reality bites they seek someone to blame, the University for ‘misleading them’ into believing a job at the end of the study period is a for gone conclusion or parents and teachers for some how hoodwinking them.

This boomerang generation believes its 'entitled' to a great paying job straightaway.
This boomerang generation believes its ‘entitled’ to a great paying job straightaway.

This generation of ‘entitlement’ means that when life doesn’t quite pan out how they hoped they look to the family home for support often into their thirties.

The Office for National Statistics estimates three million young people are presently living with their parents, this inter-generational living is influenced by money.

The perception that children are independent from the age of eighteen is a fallacy because the evidence supports that many are relying on parents both practically and financially well into their 20s.

The harsh reality is that at some point your children will leave the nest; it is the next step for children emotionally and physically.

But for the parents it is quite different.

You want them to seek their own independence, career, family and happiness and when they need advice or help you hope they look to you.

As much as we love our children and we want to do the best we can for them, you hope this doesn’t result in permanent residency in the parental home.

What do you think? Are you a parent that has children residing at home? Do you like the fact they are there with you or are you helping them out because that’s what good parents do? Let us know what you think.

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Fake Food – Food for thought?

If we can’t trust our own food manufacturers and purveyors of the foods we buy weekly during our weekly shop then whom do we trust?

With the recent revelation that a large percentage of the UK’s meat products contain horse meat what else has been allowed to enter our food chain?

What IS really in our foods?
What IS really in our foods?

You might be left wondering where does it all end?

Food fraud which is affecting anything from olive oil to tuna and fruit juices has now been exposed to contain less than what we would expect to find in olive oil or the fruit juices we drink (Source: The Daily Mail 26th January 2013)

Extra virgin olive oil is being diluted with cheaper vegetable oil and even tea bags have been found to contain not just tea but lawn grass or fern leaves to bulk out the product.

According to US experts there has been a 60 per cent rise in cases of faked food.

The US Pharmacopeial Convention, an independent scientific body has discovered that some manufacturers are secretly adding cheap pear and grape juice to pomegranate juices.

The problem of faked food has been brought to the public attention in the US however, these fake food products are being sold in the UK.

Shockingly, british food experts have found that honey, organic meat, cheese, eggs and even our beloved fish and chips are not what they first seem.

According to Andy Foster, Director of policy at the Trading Standards Institute: ‘in times of recession and when people are looking for a bargain, you start to find more food fraud’.

In times of recession the family shop is often the first to be cut back on.

Shoppers re-evaluate where they shop and the prodcuts they buy often substituting the luxury version with the supermarkets own brand.

Shoppers are looking to cut back on spiralling food costs but not at the expense of quality.

We rely on the integrity of our food producers and supermarkets to make sure we are eating what it says on the outside of the carton.
We rely on the integrity of our food producers and supermarkets to make sure we are eating what it says on the outside of the carton.

The public rely on the integrity of the supermarket chains, we entrust them to make sure that at the very least the right quality and care is apportioned to the food we eat and that we know exactly what we are eating.

Without the food facts how can we make an informed choice about the foods we ingest?

You can’t help wondering if there is any correlation between ingredients within foodstuffs versus an increase in the number of children that appear to suffer with food related allergies.

Food for thought…

What do you think? Are you worried about what you are really eating? Does anyone actually know what they are really eating?

Leave a comment in the box to share your view.

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Why we need firm leadership at No.10

iStock_000014861801Small

When the coalition Government was voted in to power in June 2010 I for one viewed it optimistically for two reasons:

  • Two heads have got to be better than one
  • Certainly better than the prospect of a Labour Government that admitted to having left behind a catastrophic trail of economic blunders and destruction in their wake

But it appears to be proving difficult.

Why?

What the country lacks is firm and decisive leadership.

As a business owner-manager the start of 2012 hearalded a feeling of optimism; the tide was beginning to turn albeit slowly.

There was a perception that businesses were ready to start making and taking decisions but it all fell foul when the greek crisis reared its ubiquitous head, business owners were left shaken.

From that point on, seemingly the economy ground to a halt.

Simply put, nothing in the world happens until a sale is made.

This may sound glib, but it is true.

Until company A makes a decision to part with money and buy from company B then the process of buying and selling stagnates. When?

This isn’t rocket science.

British businesses need to see a parting of the sea and have confidence in the economy before spending. When that happens the UK will edge out of the recession it finds itself in.

It may well take until 2015-18 before we see and experience an improvement.

A lot can happen in five years, wars can start and end, businesses can come and go, Katie Price will be married and divorced again.

What we need is a new age of enterprise, individuals, entrepreneurs and companies willing to take risk and be bold.

Sadly no decisions are being made and this appears to be reflected at the door of No.10.

If businesses perceive a lack of rigour, a lack of decisiveness and see bureaucratic paper shufflers and a dragging of heels in Government, businesses wont have the confidence or motivation to make business decisions through fear and uncertainty.

Why does every decison in this country seem to take such an eternity to come to fruition?

We can’t get rid of a terrorist – Abu Hamza who resides in our beloved country yet we find it impossible to grant an application to stay in Britain to a former british army soldier from Jamaica who served in the 1st Royal Tank Regiment.

Seriously have those in government lost their marbles. Those in the highest office seem incapable of being able to make clear and concise judgements without having to debate it for what seems like an eternity.

1,000 indecisions (source: The Daily Mail)

What time should an ice cream van turn off its musical chimes?

Should pig movements be recorded electronically or on paper?

How much do people like eating scallops?

Is this really the best that our coalition government can do?

Steve Hilton, the prime minister’s former policy advisor reportedly stated in the Sunday Times that No. 10 hears about policy changes being made via the media in the inference being that the PM is making decisions but they are not being implemented by WhiteHall.

Not a good advert for a government determined to push through social change, tackle the national debt and create a more family orientated society.

With all these ‘special advisors’ for ice cream van chimes, pig movements and debates over whether the public prefer scallops over fish fingers, the civil servants must be so weary trying to weigh up these life changing decisions.

If business owners took that long to make a business decision they wouldn’t be in business.

If politicians show decisiveness and determination even in the face of strong oppostion or adversity then this has a domino affect and permeates in to businesses.

Boris Johnson said in his speech at the Tory conference in October 2012:

“We need to go forward now from the age of excess under Labour, through the age of auterity to a new age of enterprise in which we do what we did in the Olympics and build a world-beating platform for Britain for British people and businesses to compete and win and we need to do it now under the Conservatives and it begins here”

iStock_000008266083SmallIf 51% of the decisions made are right and the remaining 49% wrong or don’t work out as hoped then that isn’t failure.

Discuss it, agree it, move on to the next decision.

Umm I can’t make up my mind, can you?

What do you think? How are you finding business? Drop me a line and let me know what influences your decision making?

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