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‘Flexible Working isn’t an option.’ That’s what my employer confirmed during my maternity. I had to choose, my career or my daughter? I chose my daughter, and paid the price.

When I say I paid the price I want to be clear from the off, I do not and never have regretted choosing my daughter.  Every cuddle, every tear, every moment.  The priceless gift of looking after another life… but why do you have to pay the price financially when it would be so easy to turn 37.5 hours, into 30.

I was very happy at work.  I began working age 14 part-time, 16 full-time, and I barely took a day off in 20 years.  I loved work.  I bought a house, married, and my husband and I knew that it would be likely that I would be the one working whilst he was a stay-at-home dad.  But life doesn’t always work as you planned.

Within a couple of years of my first (failed) pregnancy with my husband, I was single and pregnant with a donor.  I loved my job, was satisfied that I would look after us both and as (what I felt like) a middle aged woman I was happy with my decisions, I worked for a small, very family friendly company, where the two mothers worked around school plays and childcare.  But during my maternity leave my employer informed me that she had sold the company, but I was protected under TUPE.

As soon as I knew I would be a single mum I embarked on a law-degree.  I wanted to improve my long term salary prospects to enable me to ensure that my child did not feel the pinch of being bought up in a single parent family, but this was a long-term plan.  A ten year plan.  Something I would have shied away from in my 20s but when you are working on a new life timescale instead of your own, ten years does not seem that long.

Then came the birth of my child, an unbreakable bond that I could have never have imagined, and I was very lucky, the breastfeeding worked really well from the off.  I had a very happy and content baby, and being single really helped me to be nocturnal with her and it did not matter if we slept at 5pm.  Six months in this was still working well, I had attempted to use a pump and a bottle but this messed up the natural production on demand and I produced too much milk that was painful.  Natural was best and so I just fed her and produced the right amount of milk required.  Too much detail for some I appreciate, but it is relevant, as you will see.

I was happy to return to work, but the new location of my work, with the hours, parking etc would mean that I would need to drop my daughter at childcare at 7:30 and I would have collected her at 7pm, 5 days a week, and a shorter day on a saturday.  I would have seen this child on sundays only.  I asked my employer if I could work in a different branch (parking outside) or work reduced hours.  The cold, firm response was ‘flexible working is not an option, the hours and location are fixed and that is what is required under your contract to meet the needs of the business’.  How could I leave this baby?  She needed me, to feed her, nurture her, care for her, instinctively know if she was okay and cuddle her if she cried.  I knew her nappy cry, her hungry cry, her cuddle me cry, and her I don’t feel so good cry.

I chose my child, I had to choose, I had a strong work ethic, long-term professional development plans and I wasn’t shy of looking for work, so I handed in my notice and started looking for part-time work… oh how naïve I was – I did not know that society constructively dismisses you when you are a mother or penalises you for needing to work in school / childcare hours by paying you peanuts.

Within 12 months I had lost my property, reposessed, I was googling what support was available, I had to learn about benefits and make phone calls whereby I was immediately treated as one of life’s scroungers, I was worrying about the cost of being on hold, I was worrying about everything.  I studied and hugged my child and promised her that I would sort this out, but I did not know how hard that would be…

I found a part-time job.  I had taken a 50% paycut for the privelege of working in childcare hours.  I kept looking for better work, but all of them were really low pay, minimum wage or not much over.  I did do them but this leaves you trapped in relative poverty with the additional stress of school holidays.  I was being forced into a life of benefits, tax credits, housing benefit, debt, loans, payday loans.. all because I could not work for my skillset or salary band for 20 or 30 hours instead of 37.5.  I am pretty peed about this.

I was now a single mum on benefits with poor credit, unable to get further loans, unable to get a secure property, unable to get a decent job, I was paying for expensive properties (the only landlords that would have me!) or mouldy properties, or short-term properties, and so on.  The long-term, average rent, decent properties were let out to those not like me.  For 20 years I never complained about a chunck of my wages going missing into a pot incase I needed it one day.  I was happy that we worked that way.  I knew what it was like not to have an NHS (I had to wire £500 abroad so that my sister could get hospital treatment in my 20’s).  I was happy to chip in to a society that looked after each other.  I was happy to chip in to state school as all my friends had children,  but gosh when you need it people really tear you to pieces and make you feel like the lowest of the low, and it is a hard cycle to get out of!  I turned to pay-day loans for rent deficit and this damage is permanent.

If I accept working part-time for low pay as a permanent solution – becuase I am a mum, I will need tax credits and housing benefit for the duration of being a mum, I will need pension credits when I am older and I will never have disposable income to save a deposit to buy a property, and so will forever pay into somebody else’s estate, or the estate of the Crown.  When my friends enjoy cruises in retirement I will be paying rent until the day I die with no disposable income.  All because I could not continue my career, and my salary, part-time.

I am fortunate that with my entrepreneurial mindset I have created a company and the SMBN to help other women in similar situations, but this is because I have been forced out of the sanctuary of employment, pensions, decent salary, great skillset.  Whilst the SRA allows a 20hr per week training contract this is not realistic in the profession, and so my expectations of entering the legal profession were also naive.

I see so many posts by hundreds of women asking what work they can do in school hours.  I see women sob because they drag their babies out of bed as their employer will not allow flexibility.  I see women stressed on forums because they are breastfeeding and under pressure to move to the bottle so that they can get back to work in a few months.  Women are targeted to work from home for free.  Millions of families in the UK are forced into relative poverty becuase the parent can’t continue his/her career AND be a parent.  It’s all for the sake of a few hours, we don’t all have grandparent childcare.  Families are locked into rental properties.  We have wealthy employers and wealthy landlords because the combination of being able to charge high private rent and pay employees a low wage, because the Gov say it’s okay, but the Gov do not live on this wage or pay this rent.  We have sheep instead of leaders.

It is a very sad state of affairs where a woman is punished for doing the most important job in the world.  Taking care of you.

I’m all for shared parental leave if it works for both parents, but if a woman is nurturing and feeding well then this must be the priority in the first 12 months.  Thereafter we should all be able to work and be parents.  And 15 weeks holiday? Schools all need free summer school.

For now I help women who are forced into self-employment gain exposure to their business, because they are TRYING to make it work, where culture has really let them down, and of course PR budget is an issue with all of the above considered, so they need somebody to help them!

Jules

http://www.singlemumsbusinessnetwork.com

 

 

 

Women Supporting Women and Female Empowerment. What about the men?

Those of you who follow my blog will know that they creep up on me and it’s normally a couple of months before I have enough clarity to post.  This one is no different, however, I have forced myself to push this out for International Men’s Day, and so there may be additions later.

I run a network for women only, I have long attended networks for women only, and I love anything that empowers women and brings us together to celebrate sisterhood instead of competitiveness, but of course I hear men cry ‘what about us?’ ‘Why can’t we come’ ‘You’d soon be complaining if there was a men only network!’ ‘you feminists are men haters’.  For those of you who don’t know this – there are men only networks and groups and there has been for many years. Masons (I know there’s a female branch too now) Buffs, Only Dads, Men & Boys Coalition and there are so many men setting up mental wellbeing networking groups for men only, so there’s plenty out there for you if you look for it, and there’s nothing stopping you from starting your own.

I can’t speak for other women as a rule, but certainly the women in my close network do not have anything against men, in-fact quite the opposite, we respect the masculine and enjoy the chance to be together in a feminine environment, where our talks take a slightly warmer, more maternal form of caring and sharing.  When I attend a mixed networking group I am prepared to hand over business cards and have superficial conversations, when I network with women only I know I can open up a little in a room full of attentive listeners, and I enjoy listening to them.

It is really important for men to know that they are not being ‘rejected’ per say… I don’t often hear complaints from men about not being invited if I talk about a knit & Knatter or pamper day, but if you mention ‘business’ this seems to upset a testosterone button..

Female Empowerment is great for men, women networking with women is great for men, whether under the umbrella of business or sewing.  We need each other! In other tribes women are together all of the time, not to talk negatively about men or scheme, just to be ‘sisters’, to work together, to support each other, and ultimately to feel much more content in their own being.

I was a terrible wife.  I was unhappy, inherently; there was nothing that my husband could have done, I was a ‘lonely’ woman.  If I had had the kind of life I have now when I was with him I would have been a much better wife, in every area.  You must have heard the saying ‘happy wife happy life’.  Trust me, female empowerment and women supporting women is not to dismiss men, it’s to help us feel connected and fulfilled as women, as nature intended, to be happy, to be strong, so that we are not miserable, insecure, lonely and bad tempered at the end of the day.  We don’t hate you we need you, we need you to understand that it’s not about you, it’s about us.

For years men have enjoyed sport, work, golf, meetings, freedom, and we have been isolated with our children & housework, or in an employed environment where our wings are clipped and our voices are not heard, and we have had to compete with each other instead of connect with each other, in work, relationships, and life.  Female Empowerment and Women Supporting Women is good for us, and it’s good for you!

So, on that note, happy International Men’s Day, and trust me, we want you to be happy too!

 

 

 

 

 

Mortgages and Housing Crisis

We have a lot of high profile talk at the moment about the #housingcrisis and a lot of amazing people trying to solve the issue of high private rents – encouraging the building of more affordable homes to enable people to work, and enjoy a decent standard of living, without being cripled by rising living costs and stagnant archaic wages.

And so I ask – why are we not making it possible for everybody to enjoy home ownership?  It shoud be based on affordability – or rather what it being paid out in rent, rather than measured by deposit and credit score.  When you have had a difficult financial past the sentence on your credit file is greater than committing a serious crime against another person.

When one suffers adverse credit is it assumed that they do not manage their money well or they are workshy, when that is not the case – the issue is the cost of living v income – I ask any politician or top 10% earner to live on an income on minimum or living wage and pay private rents and be penalised for having to pay everything else monthly too (higher car insurance, higher utilities etc), and to have to pay water rates instead of water usage because they cannot have a meter because they are tenants.  I was paying £80 a month instead of £18 a month (on-line calculated usage) – so the Water Company boss enjoyed a 21million bonus whilst I had to eat bread.

But this is about mortgages – yes there is always a risk but when a mortage company has so much to gain they should be more liable with the risk for the gain – and why is this so important?

I wrote to the Gov about it (as you do) and asked the question – and they responded that it ‘wasn’t in their interest’ to push mortgage companies to offer mortgages without despoit or good credit score – of course it isn’t.  If you build housing you have a guaranteed income for generation after generation of people who are locked out of homebuying.

When you are a tenant you are unable to enjoy a private life, i.e. pets, landscaping, decorating, even hanging pictures on the wall, and more importantly you will pay rent to the day you die.  You will be worried about that months rent as you draw your last breath.  With home ownership you pay for 25/30 years and than you have your own estate, for your children to enjoy, so that they too are not trapped in private rental, social rental or any other rental that pays to the private estate of another or the estate of the Crown.  Granted your estate goes back to the Crown too if you don’t get your will sorted properly but at least home ownership gives you freedom to a private life and light at the end of the tunnel, so that even if you buy when you’re 40 you have the chance of relaxing a little at 65.  Those in rental will not relax at 65, nor 75, nor 85, nor 95.  So of course it’s not in the inerest of the government to make mortages available to all, they want the income for generation after generation.

The simple matter of a deposit, and credit score locks people out of a decent life, for generations.  These people pay somewhere between £600 and £1200 on private rent every month, just because that person could buy a buy to let.   It is not about being workshy, these are hardworking people who could be paying LESS on a mortage, and have light at the end of the tunnel, and, enjoy a private life and give stability to their children.  Who without stability may need to turn to HB.

I’m so ashamed sometimes of how this country works, or doesn’t work, for those less priviledged with security.

I am not anti affordable housing – I am very pro affordable housing – people need to be able to afford to live and if wages aren’t going to double overnight then housing is crucial, but also mortages would go a long way to solving this crisis and moving half of society out of private rented accomodation which absolutely capitalises at the expense of those less fortunate.  Let’s get both sorted please.

 

Update October 2019 – I have recently learned of a £25K Grant available to landlord to help them bring empty properties up to standard to rent out.  Surely that grant could go to people desperate to get on the housing ladder rather than those set to profit at the expense of those in adversity…

Health scare inspired me to fight for work life in sync with school

It was 2016.  I was just in the process of completing my law degree but I wasn’t feeling well.  A visit to the Dr resulted in a string of tests that identified that my body wasn’t producing enough platelets.  What we had to figure out was why?

Weeks felt like months as the Dr was carrying out tests to my bone marrow – and my brain was going haywire.  We all know that you shouldn’t turn to Dr Google under such circumstances but it was hard not to.  Why is my bone marrow not producing enough platelets I asked?  What I was reading gave me a very real feeling that my life could be under threat, and I cuddled my daughter to sleep with tears streaming down my face, praying that I could do that as long as she needed me to.

During this period of contemplation I was so full of fear; I was so sick with worry that my time with my daughter would be reduced.  I love(d) her so much and I could not bare the thought of leaving, as I’m sure no parent can… I did not care too much for ambition, the degree suddenly seemed worthless, all I wanted was to be with my daughter, every possible minute of every day.  I did not want to miss a cuddle, a tear, a moment of her amazing life.

Finally the news came, I was diagnosed with Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), not great, but not what I feared, and I now had distinct clarity that I would work whenever I could when my daughter was asleep, or in school, but that every other moment was far too precious and the future was so uncertain that I did not want to get caught up in a corporate career, to make us excessively well off, with the high price that I would miss the most important thing in the world to be alive for.  So with a very mild shadow over my life I fight for every moment with my child.  And I fight to work hard every moment that she is otherwise engaged.  It won’t be long before she no longer requires my attention.  And whilst I want to be ‘present’ for her, I also do not want her to struggle, and so I fight, and do all that I can do, without, needing to leave her for too long to do it. .

I will take the occasional early morning, and attend the occasional exhibition, naturally, there needs to be a little give; she is already enjoying more time with her friends and the prospect of a playdate so that mummy can come home late excites her, but that is all it will be for now.  I do not regret a single moment that I have struggled to spend time with her.  I will never regret spending time with my daughter instead of being wealthier sooner.  Health is such a precious thing.  Life can be stolen at a moments notice, and experiencing the reality of a health-scare really helps you to put ambition into perspective.  It’s great to be ambitious, but not if it makes you lose sight of what really matters.  I was going to quit the idea of law altogether, as I had decided that nothing was worth leaving her for, but then I decided to look for part-time legal work, and I ran a FB campaign which paid off, you have to be instrumental in making your work-life work for you, it won’t knock on your door (unless you are connected by privilege) – you have to go and find it.

I celebrate the movement towards work life in sync with school life / flexible working / part-time working, and I always promote the companies that make that possible, as long as it is for a decent wage too.  Wages have not risen in line with true inflation, and the Gov aren’t really dealing with this as they have no first hand experience of it and employers are reluctant to make changes because it is their profits, and so the responsibility is with us, the workforce, to say that ‘I will help you run your business, but you will need to adequately remunerate me, and if you can’t see this then I will have no choice but to work for myself’.  The onus is on us, to say what is no longer acceptable, until eventually people will have to come before profits.

Every person should be able to earn £2K per month for 25hours per week, at least.  That would be in-line with property and bills inflation.

Life is short, treat as you like to be treated, and treasure every precious moment, as we never know when that moment will be our last x

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The Power of ‘Not Minding’

Once upon a time I cared, a lot, about being judged, about being disapproved of, about being ‘beneath’ other people, and I was a people pleaser, much to my own detriment.  I was so afraid of confrontation that rather than express my concerns I would run, and hide.  I never wanted to be seen as being a problem, in any way shape of form, and so I kept quiet.  I took it so personally when anybody looked at me with anything less than love in their eyes, I could feel it, it penetrated my love of humanity to the core, and I did not want to give anybody a reason to look at me with anything less than love.

Something happens as you mature, you accept that people are different.  People will disapprove of you, not because of you, but because of them; their beliefs, their ignorance, their different passions and lack of understanding of yours.  We all have frustration that other human beings see the world with different eyes.  Naturally, from a very young age we are programmed to think that we should thinking the same thoughts, working towards the same goals, wearing the same clothes, and doing as we are told, and inhibiting our own thought process – and so it is no wonder that by the time we reach puberty and adulthood that we are already in deep despair that we have been unable to evolve naturally, or at the very least to our own nature.

As I was in despair and trying to fit into to being somebody that I was not in my 20’s the depression just kicked in, I could not find the words to articulate what it was that I wanted to say, or how I felt that this world was not meant for me.  I was so desperately trying to fit in that I allowed myself to be abused in many ways, and when I needed to stand up for myself and have a simple conversation, I was quite incapable and so hid behind the court system, so that I could be indirectly confrontational, which of course only made matters worse, and resulted in a decade of abuse and harassment.

The wonderful thing about this is, when you have spent the best part of 20 years being either abused, or harassed, or walked over, or attacked, you break to the floor so many times that you realise how capable you are of getting back up.  And when you realise that other people’s actions reflect their personalities, and not yours, you make peace with who you are and who you have been.  You realise that whatever comes next will bounce off you and that you will only carry the pain, and the words, and the insults, and the misunderstanding and judgments if you accept them.

When you are happy with you are as person, and comfy in your own skin, you really do not mind what others say, or how they try to make you feel, you have absolute clarity that you can press on through life being true to who your are, authentic to your own spirit, living your true existence, and you can literally feel free of external judgement, or lack of encouragement.  It is about being 100% comfy in your own skin, that is not thinking that you are perfect, what is perfection anyway?  It is about knowing that you are you, your body is your body, your mind is your mind, your clothes are your style, your hair is your hair.  If you have no enemy within, the external world really cannot hurt you, as they are not touching a nerve, and if you are truly free of needing external verification, you are very powerful, and very free.

The simplest things do not  concern you.  I have never (at least not in the last few years) worried about page likes, or post likes, or engagement, or any of those things that can make you feel ‘validated’.  I share stuff for the purpose of raising awareness of business, or trying to help others in the knowledge that my words will resonate with some, but if nobody sees that is okay.  I know that who needs to see will see, who needs to engage will engage.  To live your life for purpose, and not for praise, is very empowering indeed.

I say not minding instead of not caring as for me ‘not caring’ carries an undercurrent of attitude, when you say that you do not care, it almost sounds as though you do care but are being defensive of that – that is okay if that works for you, but for me ‘not minding’ is much more peaceful.  I am no longer ashamed of my journey, I am no longer concerned about being judged,  I have struggled greatly and I talk openly about adversity and mental health because I don’t mind, I don’t mind if people don’t get it, that is their journey, not mine.  I get it, it happened, I share it, I’m at peace with my mistakes, I’m at peace with where I am at now, and that leaves me free to make a noise, to help others.  I am no longer afraid of the flames, for I am the fire.

We ARE all different, and people will always dislike who you are or what you do – that is the nature of humanity, and that is how our spirits beautifully interact when we know we have found one like us x

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Employees are Vulnerable. It’s time to step up.

I have been laying awake at night of late thinking about how a significant proportion of society are living in relative poverty, and those of you who are familiar with my blogging will know that I don’t look for things to blog about, I have very little choice in the matter, I lose sleep and the universe will not permit me to sleep again until I say what needs to be said.

Yesterday, Oxfam (via Twitter) very kindly signposted me to their hard work on tackling UK poverty (amongst other things), and perfectly quoted:

‘When a company does not ensure a living wage is paid, the most vulnerable people in its supply chain suffer as a result. This is unfair and unsustainable.’

Source: https://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/our-work/inequality/towards-a-living-wage

Now I do realise that living wage is better than minimum wage and I understand why people are taking baby steps, but then baby steps have not been taken in every other area of inflation and it is time we caught up.  Even living wage is not enough to enable people to live their lives every week, month, year, without worrying about meeting the rent or mortgage, and without being penalised by the banks or utility or insurance companies for having to pay monthly.  You will see my earlier blogs on penalised for being poor and inflation.  There is no quality of life for most people, just look at them in the supermarket, their spirit is dead and they cannot pick anything up without worrying if they can afford to include it in that week’s shop.

I came across this Guardian US tweet the other day, and whilst it is in the US it is absolutely bang on the nail for the issues faced in this country by public and private sector employees.

Please watch it here:  http://singlemumsbusinessnetwork.co.uk/useful-links/4594561112

Many company bosses will convince themselves that they are paying their staff a fair wage, mainly by comparing it with other similar salaries for similar roles, but do you remember your mum saying this ?’If somebody told you to jump in front of a bus would you do it?, no, use your own brain.

Employers must take a greater responsibility for ensuring that none of their employees are stressed about money, especially when it is as a direct result of them putting profits before people. The onus in on employers at the Gov are failing epically to look after their people, they are so out of touch that they are incapable of leading properly, and if you are waiting for them to force you to pay a higher wage then you are failing epically too.  I caught a glimpse of the Martin Lewis Money Show where MP James Brokenshire seemed to be quite chuffed with announcing the minimum wage has increased to £8.21.  (Parliament’s expenses watchdog confirmed the salary for MPs will rise from £77,379 to £79,468 from April 1. It contrasts with welfare benefits remaining frozen for a fourth year in row.  Ministers like Mr Brokenshire get a second salary on top) Now I’m sure he’s a nice enough chap, but ignorance is a very real downside humanity, you cannot lead what you do not understand, just as you cannot teach what you have not learned.

https://twitter.com/SMBN33422746/status/1113337409696149506

I am not interested in excuses.  Please do not pay your vulnerable staff a wage and then pay yourself significantly more, plus a significant bonus (and they really are vulnerable.  The thought of rocking the boat at work fills most people with fear of further poverty or hostility) .  Plus panic buy office equipment at year end to keep profits down and the tax bill low.  It happens everywhere.  You can not tell how much your staff are struggling by looking at them, but I guarantee that anything less than £10 is too little and this has to rapidly increase to £15 or £20 (support staff).

You may ask where this money will come from – if you do, please back it up with your accounts and personal expenditure v what difference the payrise would make to your bonus.  As for public sector pay.  We would all pay more tax, and there would be significantly less need for help, so this swings in roundabouts.

Employees are vulnerable.  Look after them like you would look after your own family, after all, they are helping you run your company.

I think that’s enough to let me sleep..

Although final note, I appreciate the process of working your way up the ladder, but the bottom of the ladder should not be in the gutter, as it currently is.  The only excuse for living wage is supported young / trainee people learning a trade, for a very limited period of time.

I also do not proof read my blogs, I am a passion blogger and I must press send before I read.  So apologies if typos offend you!

Jules x

 

 

 

Single Mums Business Network

I’ve been busy! See my other blog site www.singlemumsbusinessnetwork.com Slide3

I’ll still post blogs on here about all things that rattle my cage but the SMBN is taking over for now! Caring & Sharing X

Work /Life Balance – Make it Happen

As I was walking my dog in the woods this morning, protecting her from a bird of prey and taking in the beauty of the autumn leaves (I know it’s not autumn) and watching the squirrels enjoy their natural habitat I was acutely aware of how happy I am to have the flexible work /life balance that I have created.

Whilst I was enjoying my dog walk, Outlook was sending summary e-mails to my clients that I had scheduled at 11pm to send at 9:30a.m. Facebook was posting pre-scheduled posts and my washing machine was washing my clothes!  How easy we have it these days compared to our elders.

When I became a mum – all I really wanted was a secure, well paid, engaging role to keep me busy 30 hours a week whilst my daughter was in school allowing me to occasionally swap lunch for parent assembly or sports day.  The reality of how difficult this was/is forced me into a battle of creating self-employment and asserting myself non aggressively with availability.  I fought to sustain my business and utilise my skills wherever possible to help that happen.

This week I have been extremely busy with networking in my capacity as freelance BDM, seeing clients at KIH Holistics, having conference calls in my capacity as freelance assistant in Civil Litigation, planning to attend an exhibition for the KIH Bed, studying and dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

My point is that people don’t mind if you control your diary, often we are too keen to please and consequently we compromise our own wellbeing.  My clients do not mind that I am unavailable between 3pm and 7pm.  They are happy with a conference call at 2pm or 9pm.  I am happy to prepare summary e-mails at 11pm and schedule them to send at 9:30 a.m.  My BDM clients do not mind that I am only available to network for them during school hours.  What matters is that I am committed to helping them and I do what I do well.  Sometimes we fear reactions too much.

As a mum I have 30 hours in the week that I can manage my workload and 21 hours in the evening that I can prepare my workload.  I attend every parent assembly and I pick my daughter and drop her off.  I look pretty rough and it would be easy for other parents to assume I do not work, but that does not concern me, what concerns me is that I can do homework with my daughter, cook tea for her, bathe her, read her a story and accompany her to groups.

*You do have to fight for work /life balance.  It doesn’t knock on your door, you need to actively contact people and don’t be shy about your availability and fee.  I ran a Facebook campaign to find the flexible legal experience.  I targeted solicitors and such like within an hour of my home, and it paid off.  You have to make it happen.  With every 100 no’s follows a yes (ish).

*Whilst we are still fighting for work/life balance due to this stiff British mindset there are some fantastic companies out there leading the way with part-time or flexible employment that does not insult the brain or pocket, and these companies are game changers, leaders not followers, they recognise the importance of being able to juggle what matters to you without this affecting your professional output.

Don’t give up, it can take years to get the balance right and the correct fulfilling work, you just need to be honest with yourself if something is getting you down and keep looking for work that fulfils you, pays you correctly, and does not make you feel like a bum for wanting to be a ‘full-time’ mum.

Note I schedule late night emails to send in the morning as it can be very stressful to receive work e-mails in the evening, we should be free to relax unless we ‘choose’ not to, that is the difference between scheduling and email and actually sending it.  We are primitively wired to be on high alert as the day becomes night and so fight or flight response is much more likely if an email stresses us out in the evening.  Send serious (or possibly invasive) emails in the day when people are better placed to receive them.

Caring & Sharing

 

 

 

 

Housing Crisis & Shelter

I had plenty to do yesterday but I downed tools, switched of the phone and spent the day volunteering at Shelter’s Bristol Hub, showing off my painting skills! it was really lovely to hear first hand some of the projects they are working and how many people they are helping on a day-to-day basis.

So many of us are so vulnerable to being made homeless and Charities such as Shelter are crucial to help us through difficult times. Taking time out from our own day-to-day business and activities to volunteer in such a way helps us to remain grounded and connect with the real issues that surround us.

With connection comes greater understanding and raised awareness of how we can help to build a better society, it is not a selfless act, building a happier society where people are not living in desperate situations has a ripple effect, including on the people you love.  It just needs a few leaders, a few game-changers, a few people in power with the ability to make small life altering changes to what is perceived to be normal.

Longer tenancy agreements (of course with landlord protection clauses!) – it is not a nice situation to be in when every day your stomach has a sick feeling wondering if that is the day a Section 21 notice will be posted through your door (no, a reason is not needed).


The freedom to decorate one’s home, the freedom to hang pictures (enjoy a private life & make a home!), the freedom to have pets in your family.  Simple freedoms that all should be able to enjoy.

 

Being a tenant is rarely a lifestyle choice past your 20’s.
Being in receipt of benefits is rarely a lifestyle choice.  Living month to month on a wage that is disproportionate to inflation is not a choice.  Minimum wage is legal, not ethical
Working a 25/30 hour week really need not be a problem.. Most people would jump at the chance to work in school hours & be as removed as possible  from the benefits system & vulnerable living but ethical employer leadership is still desperately lacking.

Decent working hours, decent wage, decent tenancies, happy landlords with a property or properties at the end of covered mortgage payments #whatmorecouldyouwishfor and it’s all doable.

Many tenants work full-time, but as wages are so low and they are not in a position to save a deposit they are subject to a lifetime of renting.  Mortgages have an end date, rental payments do not.  Consequently generation after generation are forced into rental.  Whilst some landlords enjoy a large property portfolio and benefit from generations of rent, for the simple reason of being able to fund that deposit.

Credit files are more damaging than a prison sentence.  If you struggle in life early on, doors will remain closed to you, interest rates will remain high.  Yet you will spend a lifetime paying the same amount in rent as you would to a mortgage and there will never be light at the end of the tunnel.  On your deathbed you will worry about that months rent, and you will not have property to pass to your children, and so the cycle continues.

So much work to be done here guys! More leaders & game changers required.

It is quite simple – home ownership = no need for Gov. to fund HB for generations. (yes – less tax) Working will benefit all, for the right reasons.  Disposable income = less crime = less tax!
Rental income, from whichever channel, is funding capitalism and property portfolios, instead of generations of security.  It’s not rocket science to see what is wrong here.
Meanwhile people are in a massive rental trap – and Shelter do so much to help.  People are unable to afford to move to more affordable properties (huge fees, deposits, DSS discrimination, and needing guarantors for low credit score), people are unable to move into government affordable housing – and if they are lucky enough to find a secure affordable home they need help to furnish it with the basics.  Legal advice for revenge action for repairs, the list goes on.  Turn to Shelter if you need help and advice.
Here is a VT recently released by Shelter with respect to discrimination – it does happen, you will know from some of my earlier blogs about my estate agent days.  We did not advertise no DSS but we still allowed discrimination in some cases behind the scenes.  Instead of educating our landlords.  This must end.

@ShelterBristol #housingcrisis #minimumwage 
#flexibleworking #johannhari @kihbed @ShelterUK

#Shelter

 

Friendship, Love and Giving

Since my last post the matter of friendship has been politely interrupting my sleep and as usual I have allowed my brain to process the elements before sharing my findings on here, with the sole intention of hopefully helping others understand, and ultimately come to terms with non-reciprocated giving.

In order to be happy, fulfilled, at peace with your relationships and to enjoy inner calm you need to deal with matters that eat you up inside, fester away and grow into a toxic unhappiness that affects your wellbeing, your relationships, your bitterness, and the way you go about your life.  To achieve mental wellbeing, forgiveness, understanding and loving without becoming dependent on that love are crucial.

It is not other people that hurt us, it is our own expectations and desired outcome.

There are several affirmations that people are not ignoring you – they are busy and that you should get busy too, and whilst they mean well, and come from a place of some truth, it was one of the most offensive ways of trying to help people who are feeling ignored, lonely, and that their friends and family are failing them.  There is a truth to people being busy, but I would prefer to use the term ‘distracted’, as most of the time the people who genuinely care about you, think of you often, and would love to be in your company will never contact you, or will very rarely contact you. Yes, you would like to be higher on their list of priorities, particularly with so much sharing on social media it is very easy to see that other people appear to be high on their ‘to do’ list where you may not be.

But what you really need to ask yourself is why? Why do you need to be contacted by them to believe they love you? Why do you think – don’t bother coming to my funeral you never visited me when I was alive?  Is it true that maybe you are not so ‘distracted’ and so you have time to feed yourself internal toxic thoughts that you are being ignored? Often being isolated and lonely, bored and frustrated will fuel these feelings and thoughts.  If you are very busy with work, kids, hobbies, dealing with your own dramas whilst occasionally posting a ‘my life is perfect’ pic on social media, the chances are that six months has flown for you but for somebody in your close network those six months have been painful, and they are hurting that you have not checked in on them – but this where they must check in on you, and ‘forgive’ your distraction, and butt in and let you know that they are still in the frame.

Of course I have experienced this from both sides.  I only write about things I have first hand experience of and so I share my findings in the hope that somebody somewhere will benefit in someway.  As a single mum I sat at home night after night, year after year, festering, wishing that somebody would offer to come over one evening but then as time went by I realised that people literally do need telling, they are genuinely oblivious to your internal loneliness / desire to feel loved and cared for, as a friend.  And in reality for me personally I had been the distracted one for a decade prior. I would be so happy to see people I cared for, either out socially, or at family funerals, or passing in the street, I was so happy to see them, but I would never call in for coffee or pick up the phone, I just assumed that everybody was busy, or should I say ‘distracted’ with their own life.

My power came when I became self dependent.  I learned about self-love, I would wrap a blanket around me if I was poorly and buy myself a bunch of flowers if I wanted to feel loved, and I would stop worrying about sending random people messages and saying ‘hi, how are you?  You can be miserable and you may not want to say ‘talk to me I’m lonely’ but you can always say ‘hi, how are you’? – People will normally be pleased to hear from you, you can invite people over for coffee – they may say they are ‘busy’, your 300 ‘friends’ may ignore your shout out but one may be glad for the chance of a coffee and a chat, it is that one that matters at this moment in time.  It is also likely that the others either think ‘that invite is not meant for me’ or that just may not be their thing, but, rest assured they do care in their own way and they will be pleased to bump into you in the street in two years, but you must accept that your lives are taking different directions and you are not in the same ‘clan’ right now.

To move direction slightly – a lot about friendships is the reciprocation we expect, the effort that we expect others to make – is it our own insecurity that leads us to want reassurance that we are cared about?  There is an element of truth in getting busy and taking responsibility for filling your time, we all need people around us, we are social creatures and we need to make an effort to develop a social circle, otherwise we will just fester and feel bitter towards those who have this circle, that we are not party to.  This will lead to us feeling hurt, and to push people further away by refusing to ‘make the first move’.

Your ‘friends’ will always be pleased to see you, whether in one year or ten, but meanwhile you need something to look forward to every week, preferably a few times a week, whether that be work, networking, badminton, darts, volunteering, crafts, or any kind of hobby group, the key is to have a ‘team’ a ‘clan’ – going to the shop or cafe does not suffice, you will feel lonelier if you head out on a mission for a conversation and return home having not managed to have one.  This is why many are jealous of different cultures within our society, they know how to do things ‘together’, we have lost these ‘pack values’ and so isolation is of our own making. Our own pride, our own fear, our own stubbornness.

Giving to receive can also leave you feeling bitter and hurt.  The wonderful Jay recently released a video about a man who gave his eyes to his fiance who wanted to see before marrying.  The video was aimed at her not realising that he had given up his sight for her and her being angry with him for not telling her that he was blind.  Whilst the video intended to make her /us think about judgement, I would say that this is where many of us go wrong. You should give selflessly, not for return.  Pure love would be to give your sight. To give your sight for love and because you want to benefit from it sets you up for disappointment.  If you love to be loved in return you will feel needy, you will become reliant and you will be in a lot of pain if the person leaves you.  But if you love, enjoy the moment in time that you have with this person and then love them enough to not to stand in the way of their own journey of love, self discovery and free path you will ultimately benefit from being able to love them always, without claiming ownership of them.

What I am trying to say is love your friends, love the people who have been in your life try not to feel angry with them for not completing your life, your life is your responsibility and yours alone, you need to actively find your own pack, and you need to actively let the people you care about know that you care about them so often, instead of creating a huge toxic divide that is created only by our own feelings of feeling unloved, or let down.  What was an innocent six or twelve months silence can turn into feelings of hatred if not nurtured properly. If you have not spoken to a member of family or old friend for three years try sending a message asking ‘we haven’t spoken for a long time – did something happen or has life just been too distracting’ what’s the worst that can happen? You could lose a friend that you thought you had lost anyway, in which case you are set free, or you could be met with a lovely response reassuring you that you have a warm place in their heart.

Equally sometimes when the effort is all yours it is time to let go, but not with hatred, do not take it personally that they are not driven by the same loyalty to you as you are to them, love them and visually put them on a shelf and wish them well in their life, and if this leaves a gap, fill that gap in ways that is not reliant on individual people.  To love without needing to be loved in return is very empowering, to give without wanting thanks is very satisfying, and to share your ideas and knowledge without wanting gratification or reward is selfless and incredibly rewarding in itself.

We are too driven by protecting what we think is ours, but the only thing we really need to do is fill the world with love, acceptance and honesty, without fear of the outcome.  What is the real fear? What is the real need? Life is a journey, if you can trust this process you are free to give what you want to give, and you will create your own peace and love that no other can mask.  Accept love but keep your inner core intact, so if it bounces off you are as complete as you were before it came. Each encounter is a blessing, and more people care about you than you could possibly imaging, just remove the fear and be the one to make contact, instead of feeling pain and anger that nobody is contacting you.

Caring & Sharing x

#loneliness #isolation #depression #self love #friendship #empowerment #relationships