Friday, 26 February 2010
All that has changed now of course but there is a cost to all this activity. On the more trivial side it has been two weeks since I last saw sight of the two year old's doodles. The shoe rack has been tidied and the utility room searched to no avail. It irritates me but I try to let go of it as there is very little more I can do and they must be somewhere in the house so why waste energy fretting about it. Similarly we have just noticed that Erin's favourite CD is not where it should be above the CD player on the shelf and she keeps asking for it. We have checked the car and as it has not been played for a couple of months I have no idea where it is and again it is minor. Underlying these kind of minor irritations, is something that is potentially much larger. I have noticed that the more that I go out to work, the more the running of the house grinds to a halt.
However this observation leads me to reflect on the words of a very powerful motivational speaker whom I was privileged to hear earlier this week and that was the Investigator. In essence having a vision and following it, whilst it can be empowering and lead to great things like seeing the first black man in the White House; it comes at a price. In the case of Obama, there was a photo of him sprawled across a chair with his feet on the table. The soles of his shoes were visible and had virtually worn through from all the walking he did on the campaign trail. Quite different from the videos of his inaugural speech where he was saying yes we can.
In short, many people never get to the stage where they have articulated a compelling future and therefore can be envious of those that have. Yet even when we have a clear sense of the direction of travel and our purpose here on earth, fulfilling it comes at a price. I am now beginning to understand what Jesus meant when he told his disciples that he had no family and that they were his family. He knew what he had to do and there was no space for family ties and loyalty within that. It is also becoming clear to me why I kept reading references to the CTI quotation fulfilment is a radical act. I had to grasp it, absorb it and write about it.
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Monday, 22 February 2010
On the one hand I am very excited because the movement has grown from Kinsale, Ireland to more than 160 initiatives across the world. When one looks at what has been achieved already - the spotlight on Totnes , the first UK transition town, thanks to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who was so inspired by the local food hub that he set up Landshare to connect landowners and growers nationally. More recently Lewes got involved and introduced the Lewes pound as a way of strengthening the local economy whilst preventing money leaking out.
All inspiring stuff and I have said to the main organiser in Hitchin that I am happy to get on board as part of the steering committee providing they have a specific initial project in mind like producing a local directory of local produce. I wait to see what happens.
So the focus is on creating a local community we would all like to be part of that becomes less resilient on oil and fossil fuels because the world's supply is diminishing. What this means is finding ways to share what we have whether that is car sharing schemes; giving neighbours without gardens a space in our garden if it is large enough so that they can grow their own fruit and veg; clubbing together with neighbours to get a solar panel for each roof and thereby cut the costs because companies are often based a fair distance (read several counties away) from consumers.
This is where I have a question. To what extent are people prepared to share their resources? How much do people want to create community? How far are people prepared to go to make a difference? How bad does it have to get before there is an attitudinal change, a willingness to get involved? There has already been lots of debate about whether climate change is real. All this confusion means it is easy to ignore these cries for change by focusing on more immediate concerns.
This sounds depressing and before we decide to give up, it is worth remembering the daffodil principle. One woman had a vision which was to cover fields with daffodils as far as the eye could see. After a number of years and having planted one bulb at time, her dream was realised. We can make a difference, one person at a time. So what can each of us do to make this a better place for our kids and our grandchildren? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
For those of you that do not know me, I had two girls within 15 months of each other. That meant that any figure I once had just disappeared. As a consequence and due to being physically and emotionally exhausted post the second birth, I spent the best part of two years as slummy mummy. I lived in jeans and as I had told myself that I would not spend money on clothes in a size that I did not intend to inhabit for long, most of them were not in anyway stylish.
So what changed? Some things did not change much in that I am much happier in an informal environment and will still wear jeans frequently. Using my coaching techniques and my will power which can be formidable, I lost the baby weight and am now five pounds heavier than I was pre-children. Not bad when the experts say that one should expect to gain half a stone with every child one has! So that meant I was able to reward myself and buy some new clothes. And yet it was more than that, I realised that I was the face of my business and therefore it was worth getting dressed up and wearing make up for networking meetings and tweet ups. It also made me feel more confident. Around the same time I discovered eye brow plucking in a big way. I don't do it methodically but I swear it makes me look younger which, when everything else is going south, is a bonus! I also have a three year old who, when asked what she wants me to wear, always says a dress. Sometimes I comply but normally I compromise by going as far as skirt.
So that's me but I found something that is a bit of fun and can be used to help you decide who you are, so tick off mentally all the ones that resonate with you:
- You always wear the same clothes as they are practical, and often covered in food.
- You may occasionally get to brush your hair before you go out.
- You have turned up at a class only to find that it is half term and you had forgotten
- You do the odd class only because you want to get out and meet people for your sanity
- The house is always an absolute tip and you don't care - what is the point of tidying up when all the toys will come out again anyway?
- You are always perfectly groomed
- You wouldn't dream of taking your children swimming yourself as you would mess up your hair - they have a personal instructor
- Your children wear designer clothes
- Your children have a strict timetable of classes from birth to ensure their education is top notch, they will never be allowed to jus play
- The house is always perfectly tidy, and you would never know children live there
This post has been written for Josie's writing workshop and was inspired by Nicky's post, which when I read it, I knew that I just had to write my own version. So thank you Nicky and Josie for giving birth to this post so to speak.
What I have enjoyed this week is the fact that I have not had to jump out of bed early o'clock to get the breakfast conveyor belt going. We had a lie in this morning and were finishing up breakfast at 9.45am which was delightful. No need to hurry the girls into the clothes or have the mad hunt round for someone's indoor shoes or gloves that have gone missing. We then sauntered into town and had a delightful morning before returning for lunch.
We are also using this week to catch up with friends that are a little further afield or whose kids have different routines during termtime. This is very valuable because in some cases we have known the families since our eldest was born in 2006 and strong bonds have been formed by all concerned. In particular, I am looking forward to having dinner with a member of our antenatal group tomorrow night, who emigrated to Canada almost two years ago, and is back on a short holiday.
I like to remember these times and celebrate them because it is a reminder to me about the reasons why I forego returning to a corporate environment and all the financial perks that went with that. I did it because I wanted my girls to form a stronger relationship with me than the workers at their nursery.
However there is no perfect answer. There are all sorts of reasons why women go back to work full-time after having children. Further more there are down sides to the choice I made such as the fact that my hands are a little rougher from washing up on a daily basis all that does not go in the dishwasher because the water is so hard round here. There is an unspoken agreement that that falls into my domain because my OH is now the main breadwinner. This is something I rail against from time to time as it is not what I signed up for when we got married. However I do not push back too hard because I enjoy the benefits of having time with my girls whilst they are young, and the challenge that comes from running one's own business to make a profit.
Monday, 15 February 2010
We spent a night with the girls at my parents' house and then on Saturday morning they went off to the theatre and we set off for a wedding. We managed to fit so much into 24 hours. We discussed what we wanted to get out of 2010 as a husband and wife team. This means that I will be commiting my business plan to paper for the first time with monthly targets around income. Even more important than that we had fun as a couple, giggling as we looked round Frome trying to find a shop that sold lingerie that was aimed at the under 60 market!
Later on we partied hard at the wedding and were amongst the last to go to bed at around 2am. Last night I had the aches that proved I had spent around three hours on the dance floor. It was also a chance to catch up with friends we have not seen for a long time. All great scene setting for some fab sex later, followed by a glorious lie-in. We did not stir our stumps until after 10am!
So why am I telling you all this. The purpose of this post is not to promote Valentine's Day - too commercialised for me - also the timing was by chance. It is to highlight the importance of balance in our lives. It is easy to talk about and often hard to do when we work full-time or even part-time running our own businesses and managing a family. Often time as a couple gets side lined. A and I have made a commitment to do something together more regularly as I believe it will have benefits for us as a family. If you are interested in learning techniques on how to get more balance in your life then check out the workshops on this website.
Friday, 12 February 2010
We are always at choice. When something happens, we can either respond to it or ignore it. What we decide to do to some extent depends on our values and what is important to us. At school I was not popular and one of the main reasons for this was because I always supported the underdogs, those that were bullied or picked on because one of my core values is social justice and equality. This has stayed with me so that often at great cost to myself, I find that I am speaking out about injustices that I notice.
This goes counter to another tendency that we all have to some extent and that is the desire to belong, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. This is so important to some people's identities that they will defend and protect it to the point where they will turn on the person who has brought into question some of their practices rather than remain curious to new ideas, and by so doing grow and learn. Change can be painful and not everyone is ready to embrace it.
One of my favourite patterns when I feel vulnerable and raw is to withdraw so that no one can see my pain and then when I am strong again, I bound back and rejoin the throng. I have decided to challenge that way of being this time and share my observations and pain whilst it is still very real so do remember that when you read this post and if you decide to comment.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
For some, my notions about business may seem quaint and old-fashioned but time again I see them being reaffirmed in the transactions that I observe around me. Right now I feel the need to share them. This is in part because of a recent incident in the twitter community of Mums, for more do check out Vicki's excellent post, which brought home the importance of being surrounded by people that care. In addition I have pointed out that online social networks could play a much bigger role in building community in a post for Mumsrock.
As a Mumpreneur with my own business, I have an underlying desire to establish my credibility and of course enjoy the fruits of my labour. That said those things are not what drive my business. For me it is part of a bigger vision. I want to make connections with people, support them in their endeavours by sharing what has worked for me and learn from them all at the same time.
I also recognise that it is very tough in part because of the economic climate but also because if one has a small business and/ or is a sole trader then one does not have the brand of a company like PricewaterhouseCoopers. We all know that for every lead generated it can often take months before there is paid work coming from it and sometimes what happens is that one come up against a series of dead ends which can be frustrating at best, soul destroying at worst.
That is why all small business people need a support network around them so that on those occasions when resilience fails and it seems impossible to bounce back and try something else, you know to whom you can turn to facilitate that turnaround. For that reason I am passionate about community and creating it wherever I can.
This does not mean we should be surrounding ourselves with "yes" people or those who have the same world view, as sometimes we need to hear tough messages in order to grow. In fact one of the Mumpreneurs that I speak to regularly has a very different energy to me. She is very driven and focused and some may see her as quite hard. What I take away from our exchanges is that I may need to re-examine my stretch targets and ask myself is this really a stretch for me as she never settles for second best. This is invaluable to me and helps me to grow as a person and a business woman.
I also believe in the adage that people do business with people that they know, like and trust. One of the reasons I spend so much time on twitter is that I see it as a quick way to get a feel for what a person is like and to start building a relationship. Recently I met two wonderful men through connections in twitterverse. We then had a tweetup and were surprised at the level of synergy there was between us. We are now looking at how we could work together and I am so looking forward to our meeting next week. Who knows there may even be a co-authored book in the mix.
It does not always work that way. One thing I find less helpful is when I feel that a contact is building a relationship with me because they have an ulterior motive in mind such as selling me something or getting me to attend one of their events. I guess that is because it feels like they are trying to manipulate me and that at some level they take me for fool for not realising that I would suss out their game. In those situations trust is lost.
So how easy is it? To an extent it is straight forward. Currently I get a great sense of support and camaraderie from members of Minerva's Mind, Judith's Room and an offline community called Enterprising Mums. Can you ever have enough? Probably not but it comes back to the age old issue of needing to juggle time and other resources so that they are spent wisely. And this is why I am wondering about whether to involve more time in other networks that I have dabbled in and new networks that I have recently become aware of.
As with all these things there are no easy answers. It is about experimenting with things and sticking with what works and letting go of those that prove to be time wasters.
Monday, 8 February 2010
Friday, 5 February 2010
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
One of the things that I love about Josie's weekly writing workshop is that it ensures that I write up my blog regularly. It also introduces me to new blogs and this week I found a very funny one which is well worth following because the post I read had me in stitches and has inspired this one...
Well perhaps the picture above is a bit of an exaggeration...!