Archives

Light at the end of my dark tunnel.

Believe or not I am still around despite the long gap since my last blog entry in December and this one.

The reality of it is that my life has been extremely complicated for me these past few months, I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but suffice to say that with the winter months, severe weather conditions, as well as low mood due to my depression/anxiety it did have a huge impact on my well-being, which was only made worse by some  unnecessary stress at work.  I can now say though, thank goodness that I have now emerged from the other end of that horrible dark tunnel, and once again can see the bright light shinning ahead of me.  With a conversation I had with my GP about 5 years ago, she suggested I might also be suffering from SAD. I brushed this off thinking it was just the fact it was winter months, dark when you go to work and dark when you get home, cold wet weather, and lets face it none of us like the winter months for those reasons, but I have to admit it does now look like my GP was right and I was wrong. One of the things on my agenda this year is to invest in a SAD therapy lamp, and take more vitamin D from October, hopefully this will help keep the black dog from nipping at my heels again next winter.

Over a number of years I have learnt three very valuable lessons regarding depression, firstly, that when some people think they are doing their best by helping you, they don’t seem to realize it can be more of a hinderance, and can in actual fact slow down ones recovery process, I am not saying that is the same for everyone. Secondly I know of and have heard of people who have seen family and friends suffer depression, and they believe they ‘understand’ what it is like for those sufferers, people who have never suffered depression themselves and have not gone through that personal and individual agony of depression will never know or truly understand how it really does feel, in reality they can only actually see or simply imagine what a sufferer goes through, which is not the same. Thirdly, and most importantly, each and every person who suffers from depression suffer the same collective symptoms of the illness, but the cause that triggers it can be for very different reasons. Some may suffer a life changing illness at some stage of our lives, or lose loved ones, they may witness some horrible and upsetting things in their lives, but we all cope with those problems in very different ways. But where as one person can get back up and carry on with their lives, it doesn’t mean others who have faced the same problem can get back up in the same way.

Fortunately for me I have learnt over the past 20 years how I can cope with my bouts of depression without interference from others, daily medication, self-help techniques, CBT, ways to motivate myself and a little bit of time just being left alone to do what I need to in order to pull myself through. I suppose I am one of the more fortunate ones to be able to do this, as I know others are not so lucky, but more often than not they are unable to seek the help they need in the first place.

When I look back to 20 years ago when my depression first started, and I look at things now, I know I have come along way  since then, after all I am still here to talk about it, and prove to others through my blog that it can get better, and that life can be good, in ways most wouldn’t think or believe,  more importantly however, despite every brick wall I have come up against I do some how find a way to crack and breakdown that wall down and turn the next corner. I know I am not the most cleverest of people, and as I have got older I have found I have slowed down mentally and physically, and I have learnt some hard lessons along the way, but in the end I do have this ability to be logical which is one of the tools that helps me to move on. I have firmly believed through logic that yes things can get really bad, but then they will also improve, and I like to make the most of those times as it helps me to look forward to them again if things do go downwards again, trying to focus on that helps me get better, and encourages me to try harder next time. Like my photography, I can be hard on myself to do better. More recently at work, several colleagues have told me I am too damn hard on myself, but in all honesty I have to be hard on myself as it is my way of getting back on top, it is my own way of stopping me sliding back down into the dark pit and staying there. Sometimes it can be the simplest of things in life that help people recover.

The horrible bad weather we went through this winter did mean I was unable to get out with my camera, which in itself was bad enough and made me feel low.  But in addition to that it was also the second Christmas without my dad. Some how it affected me more this time around than it did the first one without him. I think in all honesty the first year it was still so close to losing him that it hadn’t properly sunk in, and my life was on automatic with other things going on causing my stress levels to fluctuate, and get through other day-to-day trials, that I tried not to ‘over think’ about it too much, however this time around it had sunk in more and I felt it more, and it therefore had more of an impact on me.

In February I did get my first chance to go out to my local Conservation Park in Birmingham one of the afternoons I had a half day’s holiday from work, I wasn’t up to venturing off too far, but with the sun shinning a little, and despite  the temperatures being extremely cold, it was good to get out in some proper fresh air, and walk without slipping on snow and ice, but most importantly to be able to get out with my camera and see the wonders of nature. I could sit and watch these animals for hours at a time, especially the little guys below. The Conservation Park do an incredible job at looking after these animals, and they are part of a European breeding programme for the more rare and endangered species. Seeing these animals happily running around up to their own little tricks does put a smile on my face. I sat outside the cafe at the park for about an hour, directly opposite the Capuchin enclosure to have a coffee and sandwich, watching them did lift my spirits.

 

Red Panda, one of my favourites at the Birmingham Conservation Park.

 

Golden Head Tamarin.

 

Emperor Tamarin

 

Capuchin Monkey. I sat and watched this troupe for at least an hour – they are so funny and clever to watch.

 

Geoldis Marmoset

 

 

On the weekend of my birthday, I was also able to do one of my most favourite things, such as walk an Alpaca at Lucky Tails in Hurley, Warwickshire. with three of my very dear friends, I think I have converted them to becoming Alpaca lovers 🙂   I have lost count, but I believe that was my 6th visit in the last 2 years that I have done the Alpaca walks, and I am already planning the next trip there, hopefully the beginning of June…….can’t wait!!    This time I walked the handsome blue-eyed boy Norman.

Norman the blue eyed Alpaca. such a sweetheart and quite  a character is our Norman!

I wonder why it always feels so good to be around animals, they are so soothing and just may be they are far less trouble than some humans!!

With the Spring now upon us and Summer just around the corner, I am looking forward to having odd days holidays out visiting different places with lovely scenery, rivers & canal walks, plenty of wildlife, places like Trentham Monkey Forest, Charlecote Park, Foxton Locks, Albert Docks, Worcester, Stratford and the Costwolds .  All  places I have visited over the years and find that I want to go back to them as each visit is different to the last time.

I wouldn’t say I am a perfectionist, but I am one of those photographers who are critical of their own work. I look back at pictures I have taken, and tell myself I could do better with camera next time around……so where better than to go to places you have already been and try again and improve upon the last time.

Another comfort that I have missed these past four years is my rabbits, especially Sootykins, who I had for nine and a half years….which was a really good age for a rabbit, and they really were a huge part of my life. I do have a budgie called Charlie, but being a bird you can’t really hold and cuddle them the same way as a four-legged furry friend.  I did think again about last year getting another rabbit, but instead over the Easter weekend, after much thought and deliberation I decided to go for a Syrian Hamster. Which for obvious reasons in the picture below I decided to call her Patch.

Little Patch, Syrian Hamster. I was going to call her Dora (as in Dora the explorer,) as on the first weekend I had her she managed to slide down from a table and wandered around the lounge and managed to get under every nook & cranny to play hide & seek with me.

Whilst hamsters sleep during the daytime and come out and play at night, it gives me the chance to spend a good hour with her to play and pet her before I go to bed. Overall, having her climb in and out of my hands and up on to my shoulders is very relaxing, she is very well-behaved, and has only bit me once, that was on the second day as she was still trying to settle in to her new environment. And let’s be honest…. she is so cute and adorable, and to all intense and purposes she is very clever, and she is a wonderful little addition to my home life.

The beauty, survival and wonder of wildlife,flora and scenery amazes me no end, and I am always inspired by this old favourite hymn, and I often wonder what Alexander, Cecil Frances, (1818-1895)  was thinking about at the time she wrote it, the words are so simple and yet so meaningful.

Chorus
All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.

Verses
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

The purple headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well….

Alexander, Cecil Frances, (1818-1895)

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

 

Advertisements

Individuality and Character.

One thing I have learnt over the years are that no two people are ever really the same, there may be some similarities in all our lives in comparison to others, but the biggest difference, I believe, is our own personal character and individuality and ultimately how we deal with situations that arise because of those two factors.

One of the first things I learnt about my depression 18 years ago was how long it took me to admit I had a problem and to seek the help I wanted,  I say wanted rather than needed because despite how I remember feeling at the time I knew logically there was something that could be done to help me, and I suppose there was a point that I wanted to get better and wanted to accept help, that I believe was my character and my individuality. Even then it took a long time for me to be open about what I had experienced and what I was going through. I started telling myself I was weak, the more I said this the more I believed it, and as a result of this then the more my confidence diminished, as did my abilities to do things and my interest in life itself.

What we do, how we express ourselves, how we go through life with joy and sorrow are really what define us, how we accept the good and the bad and learn to ‘move on’. We all carry risks that can ‘trigger’ episodes of depression. For most people they are lucky they don’t experience depression, but then at the same time if they haven’t experienced it, they would never understand that there is another path to follow, another direction one could go in once you reach rock bottom.

On over hearing a conversation on one of my recent bus journeys, it made me realize this fact. We all have experienced similar situations in life in ways that people can associate themselves with, in very similar circumstances, but then the answer isn’t always the same as the other persons solution to their own problems. As was the conversation I overheard, I often hear friends talking about a difficult situation and one offers the other their advice because that is what they did in their circumstances, ”oh, but you need to tell him this”. ”No you should or shouldn’t do that”. I’m sure you all get the general picture.

For many years now I have battled my depression and various levels of high anxiety. I know of many people who have had depression and are still dealing with it in their own way.  My own way of dealing with it, is not necessary the same answer for some one else. We all have to ‘find the right path for ourselves’. I know several who like myself have turned to photography or art, we have all found a talent within ourselves that lets us express ourselves, and at the same time deal with life’s problems.

This past week I recently was given some really great news, I had passed my 3 month probation period in my new job. The strange thing was I knew I had been doing well, but there was always those niggling self doubts, always those creeping levels of anxiety, and periods of lacking confidence in myself.  The last 5 years of my life I have  spent looking for ‘security and stability’ in my career, each time I had to settle for a temporary contract. Then in September last year I finally got a permanent job, only to be told 5 weeks into the job that company restructure meant I would lose that job in April this year. Obviously, at the time it was a very disappointing and  yet another huge blow. In April when I did finally get made redundant, what was going through my mind was that I have got to start all over again, the job seeking, finding a new job, settling in with new people, how would we all get on, how would I find the job. Basically all those usual uncertainties, but realistically I needn’t have worried…..which is easy to say now.

I have been lucky, ‘my individuality & character’ I am certain is one of the factors that has helped me get through yet another uncertain period in my life, as has balancing my time with doing things I love such as nature visits and photography.  But more importantly, so has the help of the great team of people I now work with, they all have their individuality and characters which is what make them a great team to work with. On Monday when I was told the wonderful news about my job becoming permanent, I suddenly felt that I was now further along in my life that day than I was the day before. Once again I have found a little self-confidence and enjoyment and a great bunch of colleagues who I am proud to call my friends.

Who knows what lies ahead, but for now life is good.

A Psalm Of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,–act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;–

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

New triumph….a new chapter for 2017.

Since the earlier part of this year my life has been somewhat ‘intense’. This has meant my blog has been put on hold for a few months whilst I focused mainly on job searching and dealing with other personal issues, as well as some occasional days out with my camera to preserve my sanity. Fortunately, I have had some great days out and have some new stories and photos to publish on here in the coming weeks.

The realization in February and March, knowing my job was soon coming to an end in mid April, having to be made redundant after only 8 months in this last job…… left me feeling rather low and at times very despondent. Inevitably, the situation of looking for and applying for and then attending any interviews became rather scary and bought on several panic attacks. In addition to all this I was having to ‘adjust’ to being on two new medication for my diabetes, which also had some rather unpleasant side effects.

Then I had to consider the next stage of my life……starting a new job, settling into it, meeting new people, becoming acclimatized to the new working environment, learning about the job what to do what not to do and so on. At times it became quite difficult…..but throughout all of it, I knew I couldn’t give up and therefore had to ensure it all didn’t become too much of a burden for me.

I believe as you get older, that despite your many years of experience and proven skill sets, it becomes a lot more difficult to compete for jobs, especially with the younger graduates that companies want to take on so that they can ‘mold’ them into shape, and into the image that the particular company wants them to be.  What has become more apparent these past couple of years is that employers are not prepared to pay better wages and so willingly take on youngsters for minimal pay in the name of apprenticeships.

This time however, financially, I was actually in the position where I could allow myself up to a maximum of around 3 months to find and start a new job without having to worry about paying the bills or having to sign on with the DWP and have to claim benefit for being unemployed. The turmoil and stress of that alone, having to fill in forms, attend weekly meeting at the local job centre, keep a record of proof that you were looking for and applying for jobs was something I did not want to have to go through again with them. This time I held the Ace card, and was in a position to be a little bit more selective about what jobs I went after, and whether to accept or not, the first job that came along that I was offered….simply because it was a job, and not because it felt right for me.

Realistically, I knew exactly what I needed to do, and I did not want to be dictated to by the DWP or be answerable to them. I worked out my plan, first stage was to update my CV,  I shortened parts of it made sure I kept to the truth but made it a little more interesting and eye-catching to read and posted it on several reputable job sites. I had to work out a routine of job searching, setting up email alerts, covering so many hours per day on the computer looking at and applying for jobs, filling in application forms and so on. And in addition to this I knew I also needed to ensure I had proper breaks on the days in between, and got out into the fresh air and ate regular meals to ensure my diabetes remained well-managed, have plenty of exercise and kept my mind focused on other things such as my interest in wildlife and photography and day trips with a local coach company.

To my surprise, within a matter of 2 days of posting my CV I had quite a selection of different agencies phoning me up….I have seen your CV online on either CV Library or Monster etc and I am recruiting for a job which I believe will be just right for you. Great I thought, some real interest, then came the crunch….wrong location, too far to travel (everyone assumes you drive a car) or it was part-time hours, a temp only position and so on.

I did attend several interviews only to find that I received the feedback I had done really well…. but only just narrowly missed out, and was in a few instances  a close 2nd choice, when it comes to jobs, unfortunately there is not silver or bronze medals…..you just simply have to go for and obtain gold. In another couple of instances, someone had just that little bit better experience having already worked in a commercial office and the other job someone had already had experience working in an insurance office background, in another job I missed out purely because although I had a great administration background and wealth of experience, they believed I would become bored in the particular job and therefore felt I was over qualified!! The most annoying part about that was that I was never given the chance to find out or disprove them. I have always felt that you can’t actually get bored in a job, on if you let it. Even when there are quiet times there are still always things one can get on with.

There was another job which I had to say no to because the salary was ridiculously low, I told the recruitment consultant about this in our meeting, and that I couldn’t afford such a low salary, I was only interested in getting an interview for the job I had actually applied for through her recruitment company. I did get the feeling she wasn’t listening to me, and her mind wasn’t fully focused on dealing with me in the office, which I thought her attitude was very rude, she put me through for the interview anyway for the one I wasn’t interested in but didn’t put me up for the interview I actually applied for, but instead she had got jobs on her board that looked as though because they were only £7.50 to phr she was desperate to get people interviewed for them so she could get them of the board and get her fee for getting the jobs filled. In the end I reluctantly agreed and  just thought anyway the job interview experience would be good for me. When she phoned me about the outcome of the interview, I said no the money was way too low, her response was ‘Why did I not tell her this at the time I was in her office? Suffice to say I chose never to deal with her again.

Then, there was one was for a customer service colleague for a big ‘financial company’ based about a mile or so from where I live. When I attended the interview, I was shown a round a very large office, it was not what I expected and didn’t like the idea that it was in actual fact a call centre, and realistically lacked that personal level of customer service. The company came across that they were more concerned about achieving call targets, and answering the phone quickly, dealing with it and moving onto the next caller without really seeing the problem through.

As an experienced customer services administrator I am more interested in dealing with that one customer, giving them the best service, resolving the issues and completing the task before moving onto the next customer (may be I am just a little old-fashioned in my attitude of what proper customer service is all about!!) When I was asked at the end of the interview if I could see myself working in that office, I had to think hard and be careful what I said. I thought to myself, firstly, I desperately needed to get back into work, the salary and bonus system were good, it was closer to home, I didn’t mind working the odd Saturday on a rota system with a day off in the week, there was a good pension available and the job was permanent, and there was a structured training process….. but somehow I just couldn’t visualize myself working there, instinctively it did not feel right for me personally. I didn’t like the idea of a big call centre  and it made me feel uncomfortable. In the end I had to be honest and said not really, and added that I couldn’t see the job as a customer service role at a level that I have been used to. When I left the interview I had hoped that I had said the right thing to ensure they didn’t offer me the job. As it turns out a few days later they phoned me, they were impressed with me at the interview but took on board what I had said at the end and therefore had decided not to offer me the job. This was a big relief for me.

Two days after that particular interview I attended another interview for a rather well-known company whose humble beginnings started in Birmingham in the same year as I was born in 1965. When I read the advert on Indeed, for me it sounded like a really great opportunity. The salary was lower than I have been used to, but still adequate all the same, but having said that the job details, which would be in customer services appealed to me. It was exactly what I was used to, but in yet another different business background. There was room for progression, benefits, pension and logically being paid a lower salary meant paying lower tax. When I applied for this job, I suppose I really didn’t expect to be contacted by the company, I believed I would just be another application, my CV would not appeal to them and it would go on the no pile of applications.

I have learnt over the past five years that for every 25 job applications you make, whether via an agency or directly to a company, you would be lucky if you heard back from 1 or 2 of them.  Since February I have made, well over 350 applications on-line through job sites and agencies,  most of which I already knew I was over qualified for, or for which the job never really existed, or they were still advertised externally even though internal employees were going to or had already filled the posts. Worst case scenario, if I couldn’t get a job soon I would have to contact the DWP and be answerable to them, and so needed proof I had been applying for jobs in the meantime.

Imagine my surprise when I got a phone call on the Tuesday morning and asked if I would  be able to attend an interview at their UK Head Office in Birmingham (where the job would be based) for that Friday 23rd June at 2 pm. Of course I would. As usual I did my normal research on the company prior to the interview.  The chance to work for such a great company was now becoming more realistic, all I had to now do was prove myself at the interview.

On entering their big head office, I introduced myself at reception and said I was there for the job interview and who it was with. As I was about 25 minutes early I didn’t mind sitting down waiting in the reception area, and I picked up an old book about the story of the Michelin brothers and what they did, what they were responsible for inventing in the old days  (a bit more valuable research to show my interest about in the interview)

The time of the interview came around, I was met in reception by the customer services manager, then taken to an office and introduced to one of her colleagues and so the interview began. Some how I immediately started to feel relaxed and at ease, and for once had a little bit of confidence, and felt an element of positivity, and said to myself its time for me to shine. The interview, which included a couple of tests, lasted just over an hour and a half. Instead of one job available for a customer service advisor, there was also now a second job available for a customer service administrator. I was asked which one would I prefer if I was offered the job. Either, I replied, I had experience in both roles singularly and as a combined role. A couple of times I even made the two interviewers laugh. I had already thought long and hard the day before, and wrote them down in my notes, about what questions to ask them. Overall, I left the interview feeling a sense of relief it was now done, and I also had a thought at the back of my mind, I really would love to be offered this job…..it just felt right! I was advised that there were going to be more people interviewed after the weekend, and I would be advised of the outcome asap.

Last Tuesday morning, 27th June,  I received the phone call, and to my total surprise I was being offered the job as customer services administrator, they had apparently already made up their minds when I left the interview Friday afternoon. I was asked when would I be able to start….and so a brand new chapter in my life starts tomorrow (3.7.17) Obviously, I am very nervous and a little bit scared, but at the same time I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life, meeting new people, and working with a new team, and learning a new business.

Throughout this entire process these past few months, the most difficult thing I have found myself doing is to try to be and to try remain positive. I knew I would get a new job, but the burning question was how long would it take, and would it be right for me.

Start Where You Stand Poem – Berton Braley

Start where you stand and never mind the past
The past won’t help you in beginning new,
If you have left it all behind at last,
Why that’s enough, you’re done with it, you’re through.

This is another chapter in the book,
This is another race that you have planned.
Don’t give the vanished days a backwards look,
Start where you stand.

The world won’t care about your old defeats
If you can start anew and win success;
The future is your time, and time is fleet,
And there is much of work and strain and stress.

Forget the buried woes and dead despairs,
Here is a brand new trial right at hand.
The future is for him who does and dares –
Start where you stand.

Old failures will not hold, old triumphs aid,
Today’s the thing, tomorrow will soon be.
Get in the fight, and face it unafraid,
And leave the past to ancient history.

What has been has been; yesterday is dead;
And by it, you are neither blessed or banned.
Take courage, man, be brave and drive ahead –
Start where you stand.

 

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

Now even more hope!!

As my regular readers will be aware, I used the word ‘hope’ in my blog a great deal. With depression there always has to be hope which is through being positive, this has always been one of my best survival strategies. If you do hold on to hope then this does in some way helps fight those dark times in your life.

A month ago my last job/work contract finished, and my hope then was to take a couple of weeks break, feel completely relaxed, recharge ‘my worn down batteries’, and then feel ready to  take on the job searching, with the intention in mind of finally finding that right job which would become a permanent position. Having updated, redesigned and tweaked the finer points in my CV it meant I was finally ready to hit the job hunting scene.

A peaceful week up in the Scottish Highlands, relaxing, taking in the fresh air, ticking a couple more boxes off on my bucket list and of course plenty of photography up there to enjoy.  Then a further week in and around the Midlands, Stratford Upon Avon, Worcester and also a steam train journey from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth and in general taking advantage of our local bus & train services, getting out in the good weather, and doing more photography. Then back to reality for the last couple of weeks in finding that new career and all the rigmorale and stress that goes with dealing with DWP/Job Seekers and so on.

There has been no doubt about it, this has got to have been one of the worse years in my life so far on a personal level, my fathers death, being diagnosed with diabetes, the failure of the surgery and having to go through it again and finally my last job coming to an end.  The one really good thing that came out of it was how much I enjoyed this last job and the new friends I made. The job gave me back a great deal of  lost confidence in myself and my abilities, and for that I am more grateful than my  friends from there will ever know.

Anyway, hitting the job hunting and following an application to an agency at the end of August with my CV and cover letter I was then contacted with instructions to connect to a specific link and apply directly with the companies own recruitment. This took me to a company called of all names  HOPE Construction Materials, which had just been joined with another big company called the Breedon Group now making it the largest independent cement/ concrete company in the UK.

I made my application, and the following day received a phone call from their HR dept, advising me they were ‘impressed’ with my CV/application and could they set up a 1st stage conference call interview with 2 of their managers at the Doncaster regional office and myself for the following morning. No problem I said, and so the following morning at 9.30 am the phone range and so began the first stage interview lasting a good 40 mins. This was a first for me having a telephone based job interview. At the end of it I was told again they were very impressed with what they had just heard as well as my CV and one of the managers would like to hold a 2nd stage interview with me in person at the Birmingham shipping office and work site where the job was based. And so the interview was set up for the morning of Tues 6/9. Overall it went very well, and when I left there I was very ‘hopeful’ that I had got the job.

Just before 6 pm that evening my phone rang and within a couple of minutes I was accepting the job I was being offered and asked to start Mon 12/9.

Finally, Hope in more than one way!!

The job will be very challenging and there is a huge amount of technical information to take on board to understand the role of the job as a customer services agent/administrator. Three days into a month of in-depth training about the in’s and out’s of cement, aggregates and concrete mixes, I have to say I am really enjoying it. The small team I will be working with are great and have really made me feel welcome, as have the other colleagues around our various Birmingham/ West Midlands sites whilst on site visits all day yesterday with the Area Production Manager.

If you think concrete is such a simple and straight forward product, think again. In the first couple of days alone, I have had my eyes opened to it all. There are so many different standards of concrete to do so many different jobs, different types of mixes and so on. Learning about all the processes, grading, combinations really is quite fascinating, as is the history.

Did you know for instance the Romans were reported to have produced the first real form of concrete – the Colosseum was built between 72 A.D and 80 A.D under the Emperor Vespasian, in the heart of Ancient Rome. It was made from stone and concrete, this magnificent monument was built with the man power of tens of thousands of slaves. Fortunately these days machines can do the work. But it is true to say this was a true turning point in history, which has gone from that simple basic mixture into what is supplied all around the world today. Every single day we all somehow have contact with the grey stuff in our lives, and yet take it for granted because it simply is there such as the buildings we all live or work in, the ground beneath us we walk on in schools, hospitals, shops and supermarkets, farms, roads, kerbs and pathways…….the list is endless.

It’s true to say I have now been given a lot more ‘Hope’ than before…..and hopefully this is all a very good omen for me!!

 

Hope

Hope abides; therefore I abide.
Countless frustrations have not cowed me.
I am still alive, vibrant with life.
The black cloud will disappear,
The morning sun will appear once again
In all its supernal glory.

By: Sri Chinmoy

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

A new road ahead.

It has been a very long strange and mixed 12 months. Some really rough and tough times these past few months on a health level and with the passing of my father in April,  but also some great times on the work side, and also the chance to develop my love of nature and photography and visit more places in order to do this.

Having said that I am now at yet another crossroads in my life, and yet I am seeking a new challenge and am looking to take the next step forward. In two weeks time on August 5th my current contract comes to an end, and yet again I will be looking for a new job, to some to find a new job it’s as easy as tossing a coin in the air, but for those of us who suffer depression and anxiety, it can be a very daunting prospect.

In many ways I have been very fortunate with this current position, I have far exceeded my own expectations and discovered new things about myself in my ability to tackle and solve problems and overcome a lot of obstacles. I have been able to maintain a  high level of professionalism, Iv’e been able to do so much in-depth work, and not just doing one or two stages of a job and then passing it on to the next person to do their part, but I have been able to follow many stages of an entire process through from start to finish. In addition to this I have been able to implement several new job procedures and carry them through to prove they can and do work, and Iv’e learnt a great deal about the rail industry, and I have also been extremely fortunate to work with some incredible and wonderful people and make some wonderful friendships in the process. Overall I have exceeded my own expectations, and I believe in all honestly exceeded my employers expectations of me, and I have to say that does feel good, and it also makes one feel proud to have made such an achievement.

One thing is for certain, I do feel a little more confident about my future job than I have done for many years, that is of course providing I get the right opportunity by a company willing to take a chance and give me the opportunity to prove myself. For the first time in many years I actually feel confident in my own abilities.

I have had a great year discovering the local nature reserve, through all the changing seasons, made friends with a Robin who I called Buddy. He has in recent weeks  flown the nest with his little babies, and despite knowing I will most likely never see him again, unless we both happen to make return visits to the reserve and his particular favourite tree. I do feel very privileged that I was able to make friends, share a trust and have a special bond with a wild bird and be able hand feed him.

That aside, I have also this year had to cope with the diagnosis of  Diabetes,  problems with my kidneys and cholesterol level, another lot of surgery and then in April the sudden and unexpected death of my Father.  An extreme combination of  similar problems that 15 years ago brought to my knees, and  my first dealings with  depression, but now despite how hard it is to cope with all this…some how I have managed to cope and  I have come to realise that it is due to a combination of the right daily medication, some really incredible family and friends, the pursuance of my love of nature and photography, and a job I love doing, but more importantly positive thinking and the confidence in ones own abilities, and to try not give up so easily.

So, my next step forward is to take a much-needed short holiday up in Strathpeffer  in Scotland the week after my job comes to an end, give myself chance to recharge my worn out batteries, take in the wonderful Scottish air, scenery and hospitality, take plenty of photographs and discover the wildlife up there, and also hopefully treat myself to a glass or two of some very fine single malt whisky from that region.  But, I do realise that I also need time to think about what sort of job I would like to do next, and how to balance my work life with managing my diabetes and also prepare myself  mentally for upcoming job interviews. So who knows what new opportunities await around the next corner.

 

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate.

– J.R.R. Tolkien

Many thanks for stopping by

 

Full circle.

As I have mentioned on several occasions before, I love the spring. In spite of everything that has been going on in my personal life these last few weeks, I have tried to continue to live my life as normal as possible. Despite my recent diagnosis of diabetes, and also the surgery a couple of weeks ago,  I have tried to maintain a healthy walking/exercise regime. Although I haven’t been able to get out at the weekends with my camera, I have managed to maintain my daily routine as best as possible to and from my current job by visiting the nature reserve at the back of where I work and taking a few photos.

At the end of June last year I took up a 12 month temp work contract, at a place that is situated close by  the nature reserve. When I first stepped foot into the reserve I have to admit that at first I thought it didn’t look like much and I thought I was going to be disappointed. But I have to say the place has continued to amaze me week in and week out, throughout last summer, autumn, winter and now the spring and as we are now heading towards summer I have now almost come full circle.

I have watched it grow and develop on a daily basis. At the end of last summer I felt very annoyed when the council gardeners went in and mowed down all the waist deep grass in the meadows, I was no longer able to watch the wrens diving in and out looking for insects, or watch the variety of butterflies chasing each other over the tall grass. I have watched as many of the trees have been cut down and disappearing throughout the autumn months along the pathways and down by the river walk.  The pathway I followed at the side of the river became muddy and icy during the winter months, and the trees bare of all but a few leaves hanging on to their branches. All along the pathway the flowers and plants gave the appearance they had withered and died. I have seen so many different species of birds, some I have heard but not seen. I have continued to hand feed my little robin Buddy……and I have met his little lady. Each time I have gone into the reserve to feed him, he has as usual come to my hand taken some food then briefly flown off with the food before coming back and taking some more from me, he has continued to repeat this on a daily basis. By watching him carefully it has become obvious he has a nest where he is feeding youngsters, and I am hoping very soon he will be showing them off to me. At other times his little lady friend (who I have called Freckles) comes close by to me, but still unable to take food from my hand, so he comes to my hand and flies to her with the food, opening her mouth wide he pops the food in to her. He will do all of this several times before he finally will take some food for himself. To have made a little friend like this because of my love of nature and the trust we share between us has been an absolute joy. People walking the path have stopped to talk to me, hardly believing what they have just witnessed, the sight of a wild bird flying onto my hand and contentedly sitting their eating his food and singing to me. Then of course there are the regulars who stop and chat with me, whilst taking a short cut through the reserve, or taking their dogs for a walk, knowing why I am there each morning before and of an evening after work.

As I have walked through the reserve these past couple of weeks, Yet again I have been amazed at the new life that has sprung up, it has been growing back into its former beauty of last summer when I first started going there. Already the grass in the meadow has grown several inches high.  I have seen butterflies around on the bright warm sunny days we have so far had this month, an abundance of young birds especially great tits, blue tits and blackbirds. The sides of the pathways along the river.  in the space of just a few weeks overgrown with wild garlic, their thick carpet of wide green leaves and stark white flowers.

This place has been a huge part of my life this past 10/11 months, but unfortunately because my job contract is soon due to be come to an end, it looks like I may well have to leave all this behind, but hope that I will have the opportunity in the future to re visit the reserve  when I get the chance.  I am so going to miss my Buddy and his friendship, I only hope I get to see Buddy and Freckles babies before I have to go. In one way its sad to have come the full circle, but in another it has been wonderful to see the circle of life at my favourite nature reserve.

I know that the chances  of ever finding a job like this again that I have enjoyed so immensely and found so  challenging are so remote, and I have so enjoyed working with such a great small, but very friendly team of people and I know also the future chance of  being this close to a place of such natural beauty will all be extremely remote. For the first time in several years I also have regained some lost confidence in myself and my abilities…..just how long that will last I don’t yet know. At my age I know only too well how difficult it will be to get another job, and once again feel secure. I can only wish and hope that the lady whose job I have been covering would have made the decision  not to return to work, but instead to take the opportunity of making the very most of seeing her beautiful twin boys grow up, and like nature has her own way of nurturing, that she too could nurture her boys and see them day after day continue to grow, develop and change. I have heard so many friends in the past say, I wish I hadn’t had to go back to work so soon, I wanted to see my babies grow up a bit more, they are at the age when so many interesting and wonderful changes take place and I missed so many of them changes, I wasn’t there when my baby said mommy or daddy for the first time.

Just like nature there are so many beautiful things to see and hear at certain times.

 

 

It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life












Yes! Good things do come to those who wait.

This past 12 months so far has had to have been one of those years that has been full of mixed fortunes.

Last July I landed a temp contract with Mondelez International (Cadbury Birmingham) it truly was a wonderful experience, and I am not just referring to the chocolate treats, the way of life within the working arena inspired me once again.

My 4 months with them gave me a different insight and perspective into how a business can  and should be run. It gave me a lot of valuable experience and a chance to ‘tap’ into some of my  abilities that I never knew existed. I found that I was challenging myself more and more, and for the first time in many years I enjoyed challenging myself and seeing the results. In a way those 4 months there were a bit of a confidence booster, and more importantly reminded me that given the right opportunity one can succeed.

The latter part of the year and early part of this year, due to a major health problem, wasn’t so good. The one thing I have learnt which is actually true is that the old saying ‘your more likely to get a job if your already employed’. Being unable to look for work for over a month was demoralising enough, but then being out of work for 3 months was the pits.

In March I was offered a temp 3 month contract, with the chance of it becoming permanent afterwards. More out of desperation, I accepted the job. Because I had been unemployed for 3 months and was desperate to get back into work and not allow my skills to get ‘rusty’. There were a some downsides to the job, the hours and the pay. But it meant being able to get back into work, gain some more experience and offer my knowledge and skills to someone else.

Having put my heart and soul into the job and helping in getting the dept up and running more smoothly than it was at the very start, at the end of the 3 months there was no permanent contract. for me. In some ways disappointing, but also in some ways a relief. Working in a tiny admin office, inside a huge warehouse, being one of only two females on the entire warehouse floor was not ideal. In addition to this I was being constantly bombarded by guys, all from different backgrounds etc, which proved a problem with the language barrier and understanding, most of them were young and lacking in manners and patience insisting I deal with their stock queries now….this very instant, despite already dealing with 4 or 5 other guys who had similar stock queries and already demanded my help in the same way. Some people have no patience, and I have to admit my patience was being exhausted.

Being knocked back at the end of the 3 months didn’t do much for my confidence or morale. In my last posting on my blog I wrote about my contract coming to an end, what I didn’t mention was that I had felt for  about three  weeks beforehand that I was somehow being ‘driven out’. The bulk of the transition work was now done in those 3 months, my contract had gone over by another couple of extra weeks, but I noticed one or two things were happening that were making me feel ‘uneasy’. This was not any form of paranoia, it was simply things that had come to make sense, changes going on and so on. In short I was ‘sensing the lie of the land’ to coin an old expression. At the end of the 14 weeks I was advised I was no longer needed. Realistically they were not prepared to change me to a full salary, which was going to be quite a bit more than the agency rate I had been on all those weeks.

Once again I found myself out of work, and wondering where to go and what to do next. On the evening I lost my job, I found myself emailing a contact at one of the agencies who I had dealings with. She had set up an interview for me last November when my contract at Mondelez finished. (I was interviewed for a job in Coleshill on the morning of the same day that I was later rushed into hospital,  feeling extremely unwell and ended up having emergency surgery later that same night) Even though I was offered a second interview for that job, I had to pull out. But my instinct was if any one could get me a job interview asap this contact was the one I needed to get in touch with.

Come the following morning (Tuesday) I had a reply email from my contact, followed up by a phone call, and within a few minutes  I found myself being asked if I would like to attend an interview in Kings Norton, not too far from where I live. She said to me funnily enough we were talking about you yesterday, referring to a colleague, and said that I would be the sort of ideal person this company in Kings Norton were looking for, but she already knew I was working a temp contract, so had decided not to contact me. However, fate often plays a hand, and it was very strange how all this happened in the space of 24 hours and suddenly I was on my way to a job interview.

To cut a long story short, success! I had the interview, which is to cover a young lady going on maternity leave, to have twins. The contract is for about 12 months as a logistics administrator. The work is very in-depth, but is more about quality rather than quantity, which suits me perfectly. I am one of those people who prefers to go at a steady pace and gets things spot on, rather rush head in and make mistakes. I spent the following 2 days on the employers site training to see if I was happy to do the work, and once again I found  I was challenging myself, exploring my abilities and going beyond my known limits.

The real challenge came when after just a few days of training, Sophie (who is having twins) started her maternity leave on Tuesday of last week and I was doing the job on my own on the Wednesday.

Yesterday, I was given a contract letter to sign which from next week takes me off the agency books puts me onto a company contract with all the benefits and salary that goes with this role. What happens in 12 months time when the contract finishes and maternity leave is over is any ones guess, but for now I look forward to this very challenging and so far enjoyable job. The UK team who I will be working with consist of just six of us, and the company Railtech Uk Ltd, is part of the Railtech International France, who are specialists in their field.

In addition to all this, I have a great excuse to make sure I always have my camera with me, I am literally just a five-minute walk away from one of several openings into the Kings Norton local nature reserve, This is ideal for me if I am early in the morning, or fancy a relaxing stroll in the evening after finishing work, and I have been somewhat impressed by the different species of birds, butterflies and even dragonflies I have seen since walking through there in the past two weeks, this place is absolutely awesome and inspiring. I will soon be able to post up some of the photography I have already done in the reserve.

Yes…..good things do come to those who wait, and things do work out for the best in the end even though at the time we don’t see it.

 

 

 

Things Work Out

Because it rains when we wish it wouldn’t,
Because men do what they often shouldn’t,
Because crops fail, and plans go wrong-
Some of us grumble all day long.
But somehow, in spite of the care and doubt,
It seems at last that things work out.

Because we lose where we hoped to gain,
Because we suffer a little pain,
Because we must work when we’d like to play-
Some of us whimper along life’s way.
But somehow, as day always follows the night,
Most of our troubles work out all right.

Because we cannot forever smile,
Because we must trudge in the dust awhile,
Because we think that the way is long-
Some of us whimper that life’s all wrong.
But somehow we live and our sky grows bright,
And everything seems to work out all right.

So bend to your trouble and meet your care,
For the clouds must break, and the sky grow fair.
Let the rain come down, as it must and will,
But keep on working and hoping still.
For in spite of the grumblers who stand about,
Somehow, it seems, all things work out.

Poet: Edgar A Guest

 

Many thanks for stopping by.