Category Archives: Lifestyle

That thing you do called “motherhood”

Juggling motherhood and work
Working mothers and fathers don’t need to feel guilty!

It’s a Sunday evening and for once the sun is shining and I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin.

Yet I’m feeling melancholic.

I have that heart in the mouth sinking feeling in my stomach that precedes the back to work on Monday feeling.

Reality with all its glory.

One of those reflective moments few and far between I might add given the speed in which the majority of working men and women are being propelled so forcefully along.

I’ve been tinkering in the garden and watching my boys play football enjoying the freedom and envying their worry free child-hood.

How blessed we were to be children.

We didn’t appreciate how wonderful childhood was.

No worries, no real time pressures, no responsibilities and nothing that couldn’t wait until tomorrow.

In fact as a kid the only worries you had were getting to school on time, how to manage to get to the next meal time without fainting and making sure homework was handed in on the required date.

What bliss.

Sitting in the garden early evening with my husband and the compulsory bottle of wine enjoying the remants of the last of the sun’s warmth I was thinking how quickly time has taken away my babies and turned them in to young men.

I can recollect so many wonderful and incredible moments that my husband and I have witnessed as our children grow.

TimeYet I feel cheated by time, cheated by the need to have to work, cheated by life’s treadmill and cheated by my own self for somehow being responsible for not making more time to be with my children.

I consider myself fortunate, a working mother business owner which means that I can choose to slip out and watch that school play, scream and shout at the annual sports day and cry when singing christmas hymns because I am caught up in the moment.

Looking at my children play brought in to sharp focus the precious moments we’ve shared as a family and how quickly time passes.

Another school year is almost coming to a close and there is nothing I can do to slow down the time, a visible ticking clock changing the speed of our lives.

Reminding us of the next pressing business meeting, an important deadline, that appointment with the dentist, school concert or a presentation that needs to be completed.

I feel that life is passing me by in a haze. I am omni-present and there, yet, I am standing outside of myself watching as I run on this treadmill they call life.

You see I don’t recall childhood being this way. I remember long summer holidays laying under the sun, playing aki 1,2,3 dreading the moment when one of our parents would shout out ‘inside now, ready for bed-time’.

Time was something we knew existed we didn’t look at the clock or our watches, our stomach governed our safe return home for lunch and tea.

Yet roll the clock forward 35+ years and here’s me the grown woman, married with 2 children, running a business, an organiser and tablet/smartphone in tow trying to keep the plates circling in the air.

With so many things to organise and manage and being so reliant on people being where they need to be at the right time and doing what they are suppose to do when asked to it’s a precarious balancing act.

It’s a wonder the plates don’t crash down sooner.

I know that as a woman or man if you are reading this you can relate to these mixed feelings of lost childhood and mother/fatherhood.

Our children come into our lives as babies and leave us as grown adults. When you hold your baby for the first time in your arms, the sheer joy and amazement of being part of life’s creation is such a wonderful gift from god.

There aren’t words to describe it and just when you think you can’t cope with being a mother, suddenly they are screaming and shouting and behaving like the insolent independent teenagers you expect them to be.

Time is a continuum it knows no wars, famine, hate or love.

Never mind about the work-life balance there isn’t one, it’s as elusive as Spike Milligan’s ‘bongaloo’. Search the internet and you will find zillions of articles on how to improve your work-life balance, how to have the perfect career and still be a great mother and father.

Nicola Horlick was the first woman in the city to hit a six figure income earner as a hedge fund manager in the late 80’s and 90’s even she admitted that it’s nigh on impossible.

But is this a contradiction?

Marissa Mayer CEO and President of Yahoo 38 years, Sheryl Sandberg, 43, Facebook Chief Operating Officer have staked a claim that the work-life balance can work and dispelled that myth.

But it’s not the same I hear you say, they are earning millions and can afford nannies and child-care. Marissa reputedly had a nursery built next to her office so she could attend to her new born baby.

Does this suggest that she wants to redress her own work-life balance?

I know many mothers who are still even though they have teenagers, subconsciously being nagged by that ‘guilt feeling’, the one that says what if I… hadn’t gone back to work.

I’m one of them.

I had to go back to work because I really did feel that it was my duty as wife and mother. I was contributing to the household which means equal status in my marriage.

In truth, I didn’t want to be ‘beholden’ to a man, it was fear of being divorced, separated, left out in the cold from the work force and insecurity that fuelled my desire or rather need to work.

Yes there was guilt.

My first born was almost 6 months old before he started 3 days a week at a local nursery and I felt that a long weekend and my time with him in the evenings I could give more to him physically and emotionally than if I had been a full time mother.

But I still wonder if that was the right decision for him and me?

When my second baby was born it was easier to let go and what I did for my first born followed suite with my second child.

New research undertaken by the Institute of Education suggests that my guilty feelings are unfounded because it has now been proven that children of working mothers do not suffer from any long term cognitive, literacy or reduced ability in maths.

“Professor Heather Joshi studied children born in 2000 and 2001 and found no significant difference in children’s cognitive ability or behaviour at the age of five if their mothers had gone out to work or not in the first year.” [Institute of Education]

Maternity, paternity leave, better childcare, father’s who are more hands on, flexible working hours, a better quality of working life and job and mother’s who are in a better state of mind along with the social acceptability of mothers going back to work were all factors in modern babies not being affected by mothers going back to work.

The Daily Mail reported in May that Lady Justice Hallett said that ‘the pace of working life needed to change to help women end the frenetic working environment’.

In spite of this, women are faced with working environments which are not conducive to family life?

The current economic climate means that there is greater stress on employees and pressure on women to return to work to ensure a double house-hold income.

In 2012, 51% of employees were concerned about job status loss. Concerns were about pay reductions, loss of say over their job. Work intensification common in the 1990’s, speed of work and pressures of working to tight deadlines have risen to record highs. [Institute of Education]

The work-life balance is elusive and is governed by how the scales tip as to how you manage life.

Work-Life Balance
What work-life balance? Mother/fatherhood and working is a balancing act.

Women go to work to preserve their sanity from singing Dora the Explorer for the hundreth time, others work because a dual income is a necessity for the household.

Some women work for the sheer freedom and independence it gives them so they can hopefully give more emotionally and spiritually back to their children when they return home from work.

Something’s gotta give but where?

Whilst I search for my work life balance why don’t you share with me how you do it? Do you have a magic mantra that enables you to balance work, children and family life.

Please share your thoughts with One Womans View and let’s see if we can make a change.

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Ode to cystitis…

Picture the scene.

Cystitis
Too much white wine and holiday = CYSTITIS=PAINFUL

Arrive at Stansted Airport book in luggage not over weight first time ever for me.

Go through security with three cabin luggage bags and stroppy power bitch from hell says “no sir can’t do that, that one’s too heavy, you’ll have to go back and check it in!”

But we’ve just come from the RyanAir counter and they were all weighed and cleared.

Mr M (that’s my husband) decides to make a quick dash to the luggage shop to purchase yet another cabin friendly luggage bag, middle of airport proceed to split weight between four bags.

This now works and we proceed through security with stroppy power bitch spitting nails.

Flight delayed for two hours should have taken off at 06:55am now departing at 08:55.

Heavy sigh good me thinks, time to at least peruse Duty Free.

Mr M: I’m going to get us some tea, coffee and breakfast for the kids.

Whilst we start our breakfast and sip our tea and coffee, I happen to notice on the departure board a change to our flight time.

I quickly enquire with the service desk what the status is on our flight departure.

We are going to board you now says the flight rep and then sit you on the plane for two hours just in case we get an earlier slot?

That make sense then NOT!

Quick dash back to boys throw everything together and run full pelt to boarding gate, proceed to board plane and practically throw cabin bags up the stairs along with two kids to get on to the plane such is the frantic dash.

It makes the 100m Olympic final look sedate.

Once seated I am now unravelling my thoughts and ponder how do I keep two boys entertained for two hours whilst we are on the ground plus the two and a half hours travelling time in the air.

The charge on nintendo and ipods will only last so long!

We finally take off half an hour a head of flight time and land in Jerez Spain. The temperature is a balmy 31° degrees.

Hertz rentacar decide to send us twice round the airport to find our hire car. Mr M who is now feeling extremely tired and weary is not impressed with lazy spanish man and I had to intervene to ensure no punches were thrown.

Finally we find the car despite a tour of Jerez airport which I now know intimately.

Arrive at our flat open fridge door and proceed to down as many cold beers as is humanly possible in less than five minutes.

After which I have my cursory glance of our modest apartment.

Don’t quite remember choosing yellow for our walls on our last night back in August but hell, I am sure the colour will grow on me.

Must have been under the influence of…

Worse is yet to come. No hot water!

You know when you reach that point when you’re tired, you’ve been travelling and you’ve had little sleep…

Right, enough is enough I’m off with the kids and I will stay in a Hotel where there is hot and cold running water.

Mr M “don’t worry honey, I’m a plumber, I’ll fix it”

Me: I’m a f*****g tired and hungry mother/wife, I hate Spain, I’m going back to the airport and going home.

By the way you can sell this c****y flat.

PainIt’s now Wednesday and I’ve managed to lay claim to cystitis and haven’t even had sex yet let alone go at it like rabbits as we’ve been so knackered to do it.

It must have been yesterday’s meal and the two bottles of white that did it.

I’m stuck at home waiting for the telefonica engineer to arrive and upgrade our ADSL line and change the router.

Sent Mr M out this morning to buy, hire, steal a hot water bottle. Couldn’t find the spanish translation for “hot water bottle” so he was forced to gesticulate with various hand movements to demonstrate to the lady in the Pharmacy who thought he needed tampons?

I’m still trying to work that one out.

babs
The tea cost looked my like Babs from the Chicken Run!

Finally he comes home with a hot water bottle which looks a cross between Babs from the film Chicken Run and a tea cosy.

Still it’s doing the trick and and am now counting down the time before my next dose of cystopurin thank god I bought some out with me.

Can you get drunk on cystopurin?

Have spent more time on toilet seat than on bar seat, must have been too much alcohol consumed prior to journey to Spain as I don’t do Airports, flying and travelling with children too well.

Now can’t drink for HOW LONG???

Mr M phones me: the hire car has been broken into and his portable mobile phone charger thingy (well you shouldn’t use your mobile phone in a car anyway) and my younger son’s new red hat have been stolen.

Thought you said there was no crime here. Not a happy man.

Just taken second dose on day one of cystopurin and still weeing (painfully) for England and still no wine.

Bell goes, ha, ha, it’s the Telefonica engineer, thought Spain was manana, manana, they are dead on time.

Now have a new router and even faster broadband.

Well, it worked ten minutes ago now its stopped working AGAIN.

Oh what joy it’s raining…

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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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Why are holidays fraught with stress?

Why do holidays cause tension and stress?
Holidays are suppose to be relaxing, stress free and tranquil?

What is it about a family holiday that makes it fraught with tension and stress leaving you worn out at the end of it?

I know I am not alone because many of our friends reveal that they too come back feeling they need another holiday to get over the one they’ve just had.

Following a recent vacation to Spain I reflected on the aftermath of the holiday which went something like this.

We were so tired that when the Easter term holiday finally arrived the four of us practically through our luggage on to the plane so desperate were we to head for some sunshine, warmth and rest.

The day we arrived the weather at our destination was warmer than the snow and ice we’d left at London Luton Airport early that morning and as we went to collect our hire car and set off on our journey to the apartment I could feel that tension start to melt away.

The kids were snoozing and listening to their iPods in the back of the car and my husband and I chatted about the last few weeks and reflected upon how nice it was to actually have some time together instead of seemingly passing each other in the house like two ships leaving a port.

And that’s where the tension started.

Silly things like driving the car whilst checking the mobile phone.

At home our cars have hands free although I condone the use of using mobiles whilst driving after all what is so life threateningly important you have to use the mobile when driving.

As the journey continued I became increasingly annoyed with him every five minutes checking the mobile phone for emails and text messages.

And, as any good woman would do, I offered to drive.

Back came the answer “aren’t I driving properly then?”

“No!” came the retort.

Holidays and families = frustration
Holidays result in a high concentration of time with family members. Their habits become very irritating.

Having had an exhausting seven weeks leading to this vacation and having left home at 3:45am naturally I was concerned for the safety of us all and this was in no way being disrespectful to my husband who is a good and responsible driver.

But for god sake what is so crucial that the mobile had to be checked so often.

That was my first disgrace and ‘rebuffment’ for bad behaviour.

When we arrived at the apartment it was clean and in an excellent state we usually have a number of chores that we give our children to do including washing hands, unpacking their cases and carry ons and putting their clothes in wardrobes.

I have a very specific job that is to delegate the tasks, unpack and get the linen and beds made.

Simple right?

Wrong!

Here lies the start of the holiday stress.

Children by their very nature have a selective hearing problem they are excited and want to get out and about they don’t want to stay cooped up in a flat when the sun is shining let a lone listen to a list of orders being barked out by tired parents.

Simple jobs become a marathon and a challenge to complete especially if you are a pubescent 13 year old, an irritable tired 9 year old, factor in a 45+ short of patience, quickly irritated father.

Mr M (my husband) has a short fuse when it comes to patience and is easily irritated.

His impatience was further exacerbated by our apparent lack of speed we were applying to our tasks, myself included.

The best way of describing this scenario is liking it to Vesuvius – a slow eruption emanating a sticky froth building to an almighty explosion.

UN flags depicting diplomacy for mothers who keep the peace on vacation
If the UN gave out medals for diplomacy I’d definitely be up there along with millions of other Mothers who lay claim to keeping the peace on vacation.

If the U.N. were handing out medals for family diplomacy going above and beyond then I’m pretty damn sure I’d be up there I suspect with millions of other mothers for the sheer effort I show gritting my teeth and calming the situation.

I watch in frustration at the way this relationship between my two boys and husband deteriorates into a war of words and a constant nagging to get a move on.

Invariably the tension escalates into a riot of words. Then I ask or rather request Mr M should chilax, ease off and actually leave the apartment and get a beer.

My 9 year old steps in showing overt diplomatic skills and I see a career in the diplomatic service beckoning as he shouts”shut up everyone and just stop moaning!”

I, on the other hand follow Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people and I strongly recommend you read it.

Habit 2: begin with the end in mind and habit 3: put first things first, both seem to strike a chord with me at this point.

By all working together as a team the quicker we get jobs done the quicker we are on the move.

In simple terms it means if you help me I help you and everyone wins.

No one’s time is compromised and no one misses out because we all get to finish and get out at the same time.

This in my house-hold along with the 4th habit “win win” is my utopian ideal. But we are long way from that.

Like many working house-holds in the UK when faced with this large concentration of time, 24/7 suddenly becomes a real challenge to get through each and every day without some part of the holiday home becoming a war zone and maintaining peace and harmony is the equivalent of finding gold.

During a normal week, if anyone has a normal week step up here please and tell me or better still show me now.

Families are on an invisible treadmill of school, work and routine.

The majority of house-holds during school/working week will have some perceived routine. Ours is no different in fact it starts when we leave home at 7:30 with my husband often leaving much earlier than us.

A family holiday means a massive concentration of time together and for the majority sharing accommodation significantly smaller than our own homes.

Factor in accumulated tiredness which seems to manifest itself when you grind to a halt at the start of your holiday = no patience or time for each other so naturally irritability escalates like the national debt.

You really get to see and experience first hand each other’s foibles which during a normal working week don’t appear to be quite so annoying.

Picture depicting a happy family enjoying themselves
Families are on this invisible treadmill of work, school, routine that when a holiday it all grinds to a halt leaving tempers frayed.

My 13 year old tries to take on the role of adult by scolding his younger brother mostly to get him into trouble.

There’s my nine year old who considers winding up his 13 year old brother and getting him in to trouble a national sport.

My husband who just gets irritated when anyone of us talks and god forbid someone speaks when he’s on that mobile phone again.

Finally there’s me. I think I’m the only sane and patient person in our household. (Debatable)

The working school week combined has to run like clockwork in order for the majority of us leave to be able to leave on time in the morning.

Working lives have become a grinding treadmill one that has become increasingly difficult to jump off. Factor in the economic climate and many are working longer and harder than ever before leaving the majority of us exhausted.

When a vacation finally arrives we simply are devoid of giving to each other anything that remotely resembles human decency.

In fact I’m exhausted reading this!

Therefore using my infinite wisdom, I came up with some top tips for great family holiday’s.

  • a successful family holiday should involve going to the same destination but each member of the family staying in different hotels
  • invest in a serious decent set of groovy noise reduction headphones that way you switch off and tune out to any arguments, shouting or abuse
  • make alternate holiday arrangements for the kids like PGL or a kids adventure holiday, that way they can’t be blamed for anything or get in the middle of anything. Better still book yourself into an adventure holiday and learn sky diving or mountaineering
  • leave spouse at home or get him/her to stay in alternate accommodation
  • book the kids into alternate accommodation
  • ban holidays altogether and stay at home that way you can make several day trips and if war should break out only one day is ruined rather than several whilst the family take sides as to who did what to who and when!
  • Finally, leave them all at home and go on your own holiday my preferred choice!

What do you think? Are holidays a necessary evil? Do they give us more grief than rest?

Share with me your thoughts don’t be shy.

Tell me about the worst or the best vacation you’ve ever had?

Was it with the family or on your own?

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Honesty IS the best policy isn’t it?

Honesty Policy
Honesty really IS the best policy?

I adopted an “honesty is the best policy” approach a few years ago, in fact a good many years ago.

Some people might call it bluntness or tactlessness I just call it being honest. Why should I fib?

This philosophy stems from “if you ask me an honest question you will get an honest and truthful answer”.

I have found that since I’ve entered my 40’s it is simpler to tell it as it is, my husband calls it crankiness and hormonal.

I feel better and true to myself by being honest.

My candour if you can call it that has reduced friends to laughter, tears, horror and admiration for my blatant honesty.

“Tact” was a regularly used word in our household when I was growing up. I thought it was the sticky bit that held my David Cassidy poster firmly to my bedroom wall.

I didn’t want to say things that were untrue and that I would carry around on my shoulders for days later festering over something I had been asked and had replied dishonestly.

In the past I would have listened to the girl friend rant on about how badly her kids treat her or how the husband simply refuses to pick up his underpants and put them in the laundry bin.

Answer 1: You show no discipline and you always give into your kids why are you surprised when they scream and shout at you, they don’t have any boundaries because you never say NO or punish them.

Response: Shock and bewilderment.

Answer 2: Simple. Burn them or empty them in to a plastic bag by monday morning when he realises he’s out of pants give him the smelly bag and say “there you go love dirty pants just as you left them, when you can be bothered to pick them up and put them in the laundry basket like I ask, then I’ll be bothered to wash them for you”.

Response: Laughter.

Recently I had the following scenarios to contend with and this was my response:-

Your hairstyle looks like someone has placed a christmas pudding bowl over the top and cut round it with a pair of scissors, poofed it up to convince you its a hair cut. Guess what it’s NOT.

Even my mother has a trendier hair style than you and she’s 75! By the way it’s never been in date!

When asked do you like my hairstyle it’s new!

Response: speechlessness!

Darling I badly need to make love to you!

Sweetie let me tell you something, you do!

Response: laughter.

You don’t get to seventeen years of marriage and not laugh about sex.

You’ve got tree trunk legs, DON’T wear short skirts. When asked do you think I still look good in short skirts.

You are now 45 you’ve never looked good in short skirts! You are slim but you’ve got chubby legs what in god’s name possesses you to wear such short skirts when you’d be better off wearing pencil shirts or a more relaxed style of skirt.

Response: I can’t believe you said that to me! Is that what you really think? YES!

Now let me take you shopping and let’s find some really lovely outfits that will suit you better!

You may be spitting nails at this point. I must be a nasty friend right? Possibly, but am I fair? Absolutely!

Because there is never any maliciousness implied in my responses.

Honesty
Why spend years telling people what they want to hear, being honest means being true to yourself.

Why spend years telling people what you think they want to hear. Surely it’s better to be honest and be a good friend rather than be dishonest and an untrue friend.

My honesty policy works both ways if you’re honest then you need to be able to take it when it’s dished out to you too and believe you me it is.

 

 

For years I was invited to family, social events or dinner parties that frankly I just didn’t want to go to either because I knew it was going to be expensive, boring or a waste of time.

When I am asked to do something or to go somewhere it’s simply a lot more straightforward to say no thanks rather than come up with a feeble excuse to get out of the social engagement.

People ask you questions they want answers to but don’t expect you be frank in your response, nor do they want it.

So why ask it in the first place?

When I started down this route of being honest a beautiful blonde and bouncy girlfriend who was verging on the obese asked me if I thought she was fat.

She regularly attended the gym and weight watchers club, in fact, she was the fattest fit person I had ever come across.

My retort was yes, that she did need to lose a lot of weight otherwise she was putting her health at serious risk.

In fairness she had asked me on a number of occasions about her weight and I had always been candid.

This time I decided that now was the right time to tell her that she is obese and despite her efforts at the gym and weight watchers she clearly wasn’t achieving her goal of losing weight which could only mean she wasn’t trying hard enough or she was cheating herself by not following her diet plan.

I went on further and said that as a friend I would do all that I could to help her, as I had been doing, like calling her mid morning, lunch and late afternoon so see how she was getting on during the day. Giving her the confidence to kick the eating habit.

She was honest enough to share with me what she ate during the day and it was all bad foods namely chocolate which negated the affects of the diet. She told me that what she was doing was trying to fool herself into thinking she was sticking to a weight loss plan.

One night when we went out to dinner, clearly upset, she had a second piece of chocolate mud pie, through it she said “it’s alright for you you’re skinny”.

Actually I’m not, I do work out, I am fit and a size 10, but I certainly don’t fall into the Lily Cole bracket.

I explained that because I work out and watch what I eat. At 5′ 2″ anyone of my stature will pile on the pounds if they eat all day.

I wasn’t mean or bitchy in fact the opposite I wanted to help her because she had asked for my help and she was a great pal.

After our dinner, surprisingly, she didn’t call me, despite numerous calls and messages.

Sadly, my candour was too much to bear and I didn’t hear from her again, which saddened me as we had been friends for over 8 years!

At the time I reflected on the loss of that friendship because it hurt me deeply.

I came to the same conclusion, surely true friends should be able to point out home truths and tell it as it is without feeling somehow they are the wronged party.

I don’t want relationships based on insincere and banal flattery where I am telling deliberate white lies, fibs, or porkie pies just to make someone else feel better about themselves.

My friends say I have built a reputation of “she takes no prisoners” but it’s been a liberating experience. My true friends know what they see is largely what they get and as for the friendships I’ve lost, well, true friends stick with each other through “sick and sin”.

Of the friendships I’ve lost? Honestly, if they can’t accept a few home truths when asked then frankly the friendships were destined never to last the test of time after all!

Integrity and honesty are considered a virtue and social ideal.
Integrity and honesty are considered a virtue and social ideal.

Honesty in life, marriage, partnerships, business and friendships can be difficult but being sincere and acting with integrity you remain true to yourself and to others.

Surely that’s not a bad philosophy to have.

What do you think? Are you honest and true with your friends? Do you agree with me or have I got it wrong?

Drop a comment in to the box and share your thoughts.

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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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How mobile working has changed our lives.

Intermediate variant

It seems a lifetime ago when I entered the working world fresh out of University at a time when the internet, mobile devices and cloud computing weren’t even thought of.

The nearest I got to anything remotely computerised was a prized possession, an Olivetti electronic typewriter capable of holding 8 pages of A4 in its memory including my C.V.

Over the last twenty years technological advancements make it possible to work remotely and this has changed the way in which we approach our working day.

Remote or mobile working has given the family with young children more flexibility!

Mobile devices, smart phones, tablets, e-readers, kindles can provide accessibility to the internet.

Work is now seen as an activity and not a destination or location that one has to trawl through traffic to get to day in day out.

One particular Manager I recall working for in the City in my days as a Sales Rep absolutely insisted I report to the office first thing in the morning prior to the commencement of my customer visits for the day. This meant a trip to the Angel, London, my place of work and then on to to see customers which could have been North of London.

This was an absolute waste of my time, valuable company time and a waste of car fuel.

No matter how hard I tried I could not convince him that working this way was tiring and ineffective. Clearly, me showing my face at the beginning of the day was the reassurance he needed to know I was working.

It didn’t cross his mind that if I wanted to I could have easily slipped off any afternoon and gone to Oxford Street shopping!

Despite earlier resistors to remote working, Managers now appreciate the benefits that can be derived from employees working from home.

Remote or mobile working has provided added flexibility to employees with young children.
Remote or mobile working has provided added flexibility to employees with young children.

In the last ten years there has been a radical shift in mindset toward the advantages of the mobile working model.

Accessing emails, connecting to remote systems and company data on the go have revolutionised the way we work, engaging with customers either on line or face to face, via social media, email and mobile phone are an accepted part of the new working model.

Employees are no longer obliged to sit at their desks day in day out. With the advent of mobile computing and smart devices accessing company data couldn’t be easier. Mobile working is effective wherever you are.

Organisations have streamlined integration of business applications into the mobile world through cloud computing providing a deeper level of functionality and security on mobile platforms for remote working.

In turn this has resulted in:-

  1. Full access to all business critical systems and data resulting in quicker decision making
  2. Enhanced productivity as employees can work wherever they are
  3. Increased flexibility, changes in working hours and the option to work from home especially during bouts of heavy snow and interrupted travel

The remote working model has made portable mobile devices indispensable, the biggest headache is deciding which one is the right one for you! In turn, mobile devices and cloud computing have revolutionised the way we work!

Many organisations embrace this way of working because it provides tangible benefits such as cost reduction, growth, employee satisfaction and better customer care.

There is a convincing argument for mobile working but is there a downside to working alone, at home, remotely?

Carrying your “office” may have its disadvantages, leaving us disconnected from work colleagues and associates. Working from home or mobile working does require a degree of discipline its easy to be distracted by other external influences such as the home phone ringing, a neighbour seeing your car on the drive who just happens to call unannounced.

None of which is insurmountable, as long as you set your working boundaries, hours of work and bolster a big sign that says “I might be in but I am actually working from home today”

What initiatives can you implement to ensure employees are singing from the same hymn sheet:-

1. Set and agree goals.
 Employees can lose direction without a sense of purpose. Managers are required to set goals reinforcing the importance of collaboration and agreement between team members.

Remote employees actively suggest new ideas, create their own projects, set and share personal goals and put forward solutions.

2. Stay connected
. Great team players are trustworthy and available. Web and mobile connectivity makes it easier to connect with remote employees but it can also make it harder and less certain i.e. are they on a call with a client? Is she on Skype with an associate?

Whose responsibility is it to stay connected? The remote worker’s or the office? No wrong answer here but remote employees assume the onus is on them to stay connected.

Remote employees let others know when they won’t be available and the reasons why, they also make it known how they can still be contacted in the event of an emergency because they consider working remotely as a trade-off they may have more freedom to slip into the kitchen and make a coffee but they also recognise that with that freedom comes the responsibility of super-availability. This in turn means that super-availability creates trust with employees and customers.

3. Focus on results not time.
 With some organisations it’s enough to show up and put in your time working and what you actually accomplish is almost secondary to being present.

Employees working outside of the main offices tend to focus on results, not presence.

Remote employees focus on accomplishing objectives as quickly and efficiently as possible. If a task “should” take a week and it is completed in three days that opens up time to accomplish other tasks.

There is no doubt that remote working and cloud computing have opened up our lives to being more creative, imposing self will and more freedom to manage the end result.

As long as the end goal is a sense of well being, accomplishment and more time to spend with the family then mobile working should be welcomed by employers and employees alike.

What do you think?

Do you prefer working from home or do you need a more governed, routine approach to work?

We love to hear your view point so why not leave a comment in the box below.

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Can men handle pain better than women?

A group of scientists were determined to establish if the pain threshold of a man is greater than womens. iStock_000012625418Small

Can men handle pain better than women? P-L-E-A-S-E!

Men have never experienced the pain of child birth or Caesarean section for that matter. God never made them that way because he knew right from the creation of Adam and Eve; that when Eve tempted Adam with her body men were destined never to stand up to the test of physical or emotional pain inflicted by women.

If this is now a scientific fact explain why when I accidentally drove over my husband’s foot he reacted like his foot had been severed, oh and did I mention he was wearing protective work boots at the time too!

Researchers at the Leeds Metropolitan University discovered that men are able to endure pain and hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.

Whereas women express themselves more readily we are able to show our feelings by crying when we are in pain or screaming when we bang into something.

Of course we do it’s not science it bloody well hurts that’s why we are able to express ourselves more readily.

If you bang your head against an open door above you or knock your funny bone on your elbow what’s the first thing you do?

Scream and shout at the object that inflicted pain and then slam the darn thing shut or kick it because it makes you feel better nothing macho about keeping quiet.

Dr Tashani, a pain scientist recruited 200 british and libyan volunteers for his study and measured sensitivity, endurance and willingness to report pain over a period of two years.

iStock_000008785500SmallTwo pain inducing procedures were introduced the first involved being jabbed in the hand with a 1cm wide blunt tip and the second pain inducing experiment involved holding their hand above their head with a cuff attached to restrict the blood flow.

The experiment proved that men had higher pain thresholds than women and men reported less pain intensity than the females in the study.

The volunteers were libyan and british. The libyan participants were able to endure more pain than their english counterparts.

Why am I not surprised by this finding.

The libyans have been invaded, bombed, beaten, tortured, starved and had until last October 2011, been ruled by a ruthless dictator Gaddafi clearly they can sustain pain longer than their british counterparts.

Compare the study to that of the british participants who have a state that provides free hand outs, houses, excellent benefits and comfortable living conditions for anyone who chooses not to work. Try blowing us up and starving us to death and see how long we can bear the pain?

It’s a no brainer!

I remain unconvinced with the methods that were used to inflict pain which is why I know it could only have been an experiment manufactured by a man of course after all if a woman had been conducting the expriement her two likely chosen pain inducers would be a swift kick to the preverbal guaranteed to bring tears to their eyes and the other, not a physical inducer but an emotional one something like:

“Darling, you aren’t the best lover I’ve ever had?”

The ultimate take your breath away pain inflictor!

Which proves that women are capable of dishing out pain but we can also manage it too!

What do you think? Go on leave a comment this is mean’t to be a fun blog.

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Social Media Addict: iPad v Husband

Social Media, addictive or a necessary evil?
Social Media, addictive or a necessary evil?

Here’s the thing it’s a little after 8:15PM and I am breaking with convention. I’ve been posting articles for One Woman’s View and I have converted my beloved to the charms of twitter, facebook and linkedin.

Its been a gradual process updating my husband with the ingenues of social media and I’m getting use to the tongue in cheek comments like “when’s the next big deal going to happen” to the sarcasm of “don’t you have anything better to do”, all you seem to do is tweet, my personal favourite, connect on linkedin or “like” on facebook.

This obsession for want of a better word has been quietly solicited by myself.

It’s empowering.

The importance of social media and personal branding cannot be underestimated.

social media addictIn the UK there are over 4,000,000 users on linkedin, 10,000,000 tweeters on twitter and a further 26,000,000 and counting facebook users; almost half of the population of the UK to put it in perspective, businesses can’t afford to ignore the impact of social media.

Social media has exploded in to our lives, its happening whether you want to be a part of it or not and if businesses aren’t embracing what it can do for their brand then within less than five years, that brand or company will be obsolete.

Online marketing and social media can be bewildering especially when you start out on the quest for “likes”, “links” and “connections” but it becomes so compelling and addictive, enough to make you want to run screaming out of the office shouting hey, what’s wrong with the old way of doing business.

The quest for online presence  is instant and beguiling, social media beckons you in with articles of interest and ambiguity, frivolous and misleading headlines designed to reel you in, it piques your curiosity, intrigue and desire.

You don’t need a good thriller to read, it’s all there on social media.

Which brings me back to my enduring love affair with my best friend beginning with a small “i”.

You see I find myself reaching for it as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, its the last thing I say good night to and it never answers back. When bouts of insomnia strike I find myself at it again at 3am in the morning.

I sneak to the W.C. with my ‘i’ friend instead of a magazine, or it can be found in the kitchen craftily hidden behind my recipe book as I pretend to read whilst really checking to see what’s going on in the my socialable world.

So you see I’ve got it bad.

I’m bitten by the SM bug, that’s SOCIAL MEDIA by the way not some other well known acronym!

Recently on my own facebook page I updated my status as follows ‘you can turn off your ipad but you can’t switch off your husband’.

So true.  But until such times as Mssrs Cook and others invent an on/off switch for husbands’ my ipad is staying well and truly on!