Spring at last.

What a dreadful few months this has been. Since before Christmas I have been back to fighting those darn demons again, but with spring on the horizon things are starting to look up a bit better once again. Through out these 3 months I just haven’t had it in me to write my blog, despite so much going on in my life.

The news that I was told in October that I would lose my new job, totally gutted, along with several other colleagues, it was a bolt out of the blue, and as the time is drawing ever so close to the finishing date (sometime during the first 2 to 3 weeks of April) it has become more and more difficult to comprehend what is going to happen job wise in the future. Already the job searching has begun, and last Thursday I had a job interview for what I do see as a perfect job and an added bonus it is very close to home. Just one thing, so many people have been interviewed for the position, I won’t know for a few more days yet but I doubt very much if I will get it, but at least I managed to get an interview and tried my best.

However, one thing is certain now in my mind, this current job I am in was not meant to be after all, and may be it’s for the best I am being made redundant. I wonder if anyone remembers the old saying, although we can’t see it at the time, things happen for a reason. I believe in this case it to be completely true. But it has given me several more months of very valid experience and knowledge in another specialized industry.

It was the first Christmas and New Year without my dad, and somehow we got through it, although it was very sad and strange not to see him Christmas morning, and then round the dinner table with my brother, sister-in-law and my nephews. It is also very strange to realize that next month, on my birthday, it will be the first anniversary of dads passing. I can’t believe where this past year has gone, it just does not seem real without him around.

The dark mornings and evenings with the dismal weekends throughout the winter months, travelling too and from work have taken its toll on my physical and mental well-being. In January I ended up with a virus that knocked me off my feet for a few days and then a severe bout of laryngitis in February. On top of all this I found out my diabetes has got worse and I am now on daily medication for this as well as new medication for a couple of other problems associated with the diabetes. Not really the best start to the year.

My daily routine starts when I get up between 5.45 to 6.00 am each morning and get ready for work to start a journey to work that takes about 1.1/2 hrs plus. This includes two bus journeys as well as waiting around time for connecting to the 2nd bus services and then a 15 to 20 mins walk down what has to be one of the dirtiest, and most dangerous roads in Birmingham which is a route to a major freight company in an industrial area. On the good side they say a brisk 20 min walk is good for you every day.  The road and footpaths are littered with rubbish that has been deliberately dumped, including large truck tyres, as well as the rubbish thrown out of the windows of speeding cars. The footpaths are blocked by trailer lorries which one has to walk into the road into oncoming, and sometimes speeding traffic in order to get around these parked vehicles. Normally I would be able to avoid this long walk and take a short cut, but unfortunately there is major bridge repair work going on which means the short cut is cordoned off until further notice. I’m guessing it will re-open the week after I’ve finished this job!

On arriving at work each day for an 8.30 am start I then have to deal with one particular male colleague who has to be the most arrogant, big-headed, loud mouthed and disrespectful person I have ever had the misfortune to meet in my entire working career. This has lowered my mood considerably over the past few months, but now I won’t have to work with him much longer which is a huge sigh of relief.  The rest of the team I work with are a fantastic bunch, and it is down to them that I have managed to survive and get through each day in this job, and the fact I have been able to learn so much about the concrete industry. Then, on finishing work between 5.30 to 6.00 pm I have to repeat the same journey back home, this time through a crowded city centre and finally manage to get home around 7.00 to 7.15 pm. feeling exhausted, but not able to get ready and go to bed because of having to have a light meal in order to have my evening medication and allowing the meal to digest before I can go to bed. If only life was so much more simpler.

This is a very long day with travelling and working in any ones book, and to do it through the winter months and through the dark mornings and nights has taken its toll on my health. Thankfully the past couple of weeks has been a big improvement, lighter in the morning when I leave home and of an evening when I leave work, which has made it more bearable and also a few warm mornings with some bright sunshine and blue skies.

The Saturday mornings I have had to work, which is one in every third Saturday, have usually been the better Saturdays regarding the weather, but because of having to be up at 5.00 am to be in work for 7.00 am by the time I finish around 10.30/11.00 am I am too exhausted to do anything, including going out with my camera. On my free Saturdays the weather has been dismal and so this has kept me indoors.

With all this going on I can understand why so many British love to go to warmer, sunnier climates during our winter months.

The last couple of Saturdays I did finally manage to get out and about with my camera, a trip to my nearest local zoo in Dudley and then last week-end to the Birmingham Nature Centre. Just pushing and willing myself to get out on both those days has helped me to start fighting back those demons. There is something about being around animals that does help to lift ones spirits. It means that with the better weather comes the chance to get out and about more, go on walks which in turn should help the diabetes and my blood pressure. I even have a couple of day trips planned. I also want to find time to relax and do some fishing in the summer months. I always used to find sitting on a river bank watching the fish rising to the surface and splashing, hearing the birds singing and the water rats and voles diving in and out, always made me smile and even gives me inspiration. In all honesty I think they all look forward to the spring as much as we humans do.

I probably say this every year, but I do love spring. It’s a new beginning, a fresh start, a colourful time of year, to see the carpets of  daffodils and crocuses rising from the ground, it warms the heart, and also allows our souls to breathe again. I realise I have a few  busy and uncertain months ahead of me, the stress of job searching, then starting a new job, working with new people, adapting to a different environment all over again, improving my diabetes, but I also intend to give myself some me time whilst out exploring with my camera, this is something I haven’t done properly for a few months.

 

Approaching Spring

Spring soon will be here
Away from the winter’s snow
Drying up every frosty tear
And causing the landscape to glow

But the shine of spring I need right now
I need all the help I can get
To wave goodbye to this past winter
In hopes that I can forget

I’ve lost all my real friends
And almost ever other friendship too
Right now I am just amazed
That I haven’t yet lost you

The approaching spring will hit restart
It’s something that we all need
The approaching spring will fix our hearts
And allow our souls to breathe

by Matt Burgett

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

All Hope lost….literally!

Isn’t it  strange that at the single blink of an eye how life can be so cruel?

Just a mere 5 weeks ago, in my last blog entry, I wrote about my new hope for the future with the company I had just started working for. Finally, at long last, the permanent job and the security that goes with it. It gave me the chance to be able to fully settle down into my new role and give total commitment to it and think about the next few years ahead and feel a little more comfortable about it all before its time for me to retire.

On 12th September I started working for Hope Cement/Construction in a new and very challenging role. I was finally able to start looking to the future with real optimism and start to make some ‘concrete’ plans for my  future. At long last the opportunity I have waited for since 2012 when I finished at D&A. A permanent job, no more temp contracts or worrying about what would happen when my next contract came to an end, where would I need to look now for that new job, how much more disappointment and uncertainty would  I would have to endure, how long would that next job last. An endless list of questions, which I had finally hoped had come to an end.

It occurs to me how strange it is that so many people enjoy the challenge of moving from temp contract on to the next temp job contract and not feel insecure, then there are people like myself (and may be my age has something to do with this) who don’t like that uncertainty, but who need more stability in there lives to be able to function properly and generally get on with their lives.

Over the last 4 years a great deal of my future plans and my life in general has been put on hold, all pending job and financial security, even my pension fund has been on hold, not being in a stable enough position financially to pay into that has been a huge worry.

On 1st August this year Hope Cement was bought out by the Breedon Group who are a major aggregates company in the UK. For those of you, who like me at first didn’t really understand the aggregates and concrete business. A short quick lesson… this means Breedon own quarries around the country, they extract these natural resources from the ground and process them to produce primary aggregates, mainly for the construction business. These aggregates are items such as  gravel or crushed rock and sand (but, I hasten to add, not your bog standard seaside sand) There are other companies who make the cement powder (Portland Cement) which is the binding material.

In short when you add together specific quantities of cement powder and the aggregates and the correct amount of water you produce a concrete mixture. All depending on what combinations of each product you use, plus any additives, then define what type of concrete is produced and for what type of job. When these mixtures are produced, a deep intense chemical reaction happens. However let me assure you that making concrete is not that simple, there is a great deal more to it than people realize.

With Breedon owning and running their own quarries, and Hope batching and delivering concrete mixes to major construction sites around the UK this has now produced a perfect marriage.

Like any major company changes, there is always going to be fallout.  In the short time I have been at Hope’s I have firmly become one of the members of the Birmingham plant and office team, as well as dealing with our Hope Doncaster Head Office colleagues on a daily basis. So the shock news from the announcements made across the company at the same time on Monday morning just gone, blew every one of us out of the water. In short, the new company restructuring means the Hope HQ in Doncaster will be closing with loss of all jobs there, our Birmingham shipping office, which is where I work, along with my two other colleagues in the office, will also be closing,  as will a few other small shipping offices across the UK and these jobs will all be centralised at the main Breedon offices. Unfortunately, this means because of the locations of these centralised offices many of us will not be able to travel there and take up jobs within the new company structure.  Fortunately, however the ‘batching plants’ will remain unaffected and fully operational. We have been advised that whilst the ‘transition’ of the business takes place, with regards to the offices and admin work from the smaller shipping offices into the centralised office, we will in about 6 to 9 to months for all those concerned (around 40+ people) be made redundant.

A bit of De Javu going on here I think!

This looks like history repeating itself, as was the case of Boots Opticians taking over the great Dollond & Aitchinson Opticians. Company restructuring, moving sections of the business elsewhere, job losses etc. It’s very hard to trust in the motives of companies who take over other companies….unfortunately this is what happens all to often now and how the average Mr and Mrs Joe Bloggs is affected with their livelihoods. But in all fairness having said that, Breedon is a top company in its field and they want to expand their business, and their growth in the future, so in order to make money and gain that future success they have to find ways to improve their existing business and make saving in the present. However this means in short this is the start of the loss of all of Hope cement/construction.

My decision now has to be based on whether I stay and wait out the next few months, get more experience in this industry and get more shipping/logistics experience and at the same time guarantee myself a monthly salary and pension for that length time, and a small financial incentive at the end of it,  or whether I start searching for that all new important job that will define my future. At present I am having my doubts about whether a permanent position can be found, or whether I will be hopping in and out of short-term contracts, it is all so unsettling.

At the moment time is of the essence. There is a lot of ‘seasonal work’ to be had, which in short is more insecurity, and I do want to learn so much more about this particular job and the industry, I made a commitment to the company when I was offered the job and I feel obliged to honour that commitment and be true to myself as well as them for as long as possible.

At the same time I am feeling anxious about letting any possible opportunities pass me by on the job front in the next 6 months,  but having said that another 6 months job skills is another feather in my cap and will look good on my CV.

In addition to all of this Christmas is almost upon us, and this year will be so sad and different for myself and my family, as it will be the first one without my dad, and this added worry about the job doesn’t help matters.  And whilst I have appreciated so many good and positive comments from my close friends and friends on fb about my employability, this past week as well as in the past, it still worries me that getting potential employers to notice you is still the biggest challenge these days. The hardest part is not finding the job itself,or even doing the job. Realistically the hardest part these days is getting yourself noticed enough to have an interview set up and being able to present yourself and your abilities at that interview, and as so much of this is done through job agencies these days it actually makes it even harder.

A  couple of years ago I was told I should change my CV and ‘tart it up’ by adding some stuff to it to impress  any perspective new employer. This is something I firmly do not believe in, may be my decision to not do that is my own downfall, but I have always been honest about my capabilities and don’t want to mislead any employer into believing I can do something which in actual fact I haven’t done.

For now I think the right choice is to stay where I am, get the next few months out-of-the-way and come the Spring it will be a new beginning for me as well. I do love Spring, it is my favourite time of the year, a fresh new approach, and hopefully a new opportunity. What can I say? This job was obviously not the right one for me.

Why are choices like this so hard to make?

 

 Choices

We all have a choice
to live a lie
or be ourselves
to laugh and cry
or to follow someone else

to look up and smile
or bow down and frown
to walk the whole mile
or take off our crown

We have a choice
to shout out loud
or chant a whisper
to fly through the clouds
or to be blown like paper

to conquer our fear
or hide in the shadow
to the wise words hear
or be thrown out the window

We all have a choice
to climb our highest mountain
or fall into our deepest hole
to drink from life’s fountain
or live life like a troubled soul.

 Allen Steble

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












Hello 2016…..

It feels very strange that once again we are celebrating and ‘letting in’ another New Year. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we said goodbye to 2014 and welcomed in 2015.

As one gets older it does seem as though time passes quicker. and these past few days I have been reflecting on the past year and wondering what of the new year ahead.

For me personally 2015 has been another one of those very mixed emotional years of  joy, contentment, satisfaction, frustration, worry, uncertainty and of course sadness.

After a very uneasy start to 2015, due to ill-health resulting from some emergency surgery in the previous November, and a result of  being out of work for a few months, the year did look as though it was going to be a completely bad one. In between job seeking I turned to my photography and art to help me through the bad days.  In the early Spring things did steadily pick up when I get a temporary 3 months work contract, that unfortunately didn’t work out (and because I spoke up about and pointed out a serious H&S issue and the risk of a serious accident happening I was termed a trouble maker – then as it happens about a week before my temp contract was due to become permanent a serious accident did occur when I was not on shift,  I then happened to say to my  supervisor I’m not going to say I told you so, but didn’t I  tell you so…… and a  couple of days later just before the H&S executive was due to come in and carry out an inspection, I was very conveniently told my services were no longer needed  (although i have to say a rather pathetic excuse was used to get rid of me at the end of my contract) Had I the energy and commitment at that time to fight it as unfair dismissal then I would have, and by all accounts I would have won, but the last thing I needed at that time was more stress. My priority was to find a new job asap, so I could pay my bills.  In some ways I feel lucky that I did leave because despite my insistence about improving H&S they were not interested and I felt in a way it was good to be removed from that danger.  So by late June I was out of work again, but fortunately within 48 hours after a job interview I found myself sitting behind a new desk in a new office and looking at  fresh new challenges, meeting new people and making new friends.

In many ways I feel very lucky in that respect, even though the job is not the easiest one, it is interesting, it is within a very specialized industry (its main manufacturing site based near Paris in France) and as a result it is challenging and at times can be frustrating and stressful. But I have to say overall I really do love my current job and the people I work with and my clients, and only wish it was for keeps instead of just a 12 months contract. I am now half way through my 12 months contract and unless I am really very fortunate that the young lady whose job I am covering doesn’t come back from maternity leave, then I will have to leave and face even more new uncertainties in this summer.  My only hope now is that the young lady who has had gorgeous twin boys decides that her life is best spent seeing and watching her sons grow up and develop instead of coming back to work.

I have learned a huge amount in such a few short months, and I know there is a lot more to learn in the coming months. Working with Excel formulas is now an automatic daily task and I routinely work with several different formula based spreadsheets,  where as before although I have worked with Excel spreadsheets it was never as in-depth as what I am doing now. It is extremely challenging and the work has to be very accurate and as my colleague keeps telling me ‘reconciliation Sue reconciliation’  which is vital in this role. So in nutshell, one really good thing has come out of this, it has given me much more experience to add to my CV when I have to go job hunting again later in the year, and I have also found that in some areas of the job it has helped to give me more confidence, something I have needed to gain back in such a long time

The rest of the year has had its usual ups and downs. I had to face more surgery in October which had left me with a serious complication from last years surgery in November for an abscess.  I have to go back and see the consultant in a few weeks time and if the results of that are good, then that will be another step in the right direction and another problem out of my way.

I am hoping to treat myself to a holiday this spring, there have been several places I have been wanting to visit and have never had the chance. One of the areas I have wanted to visit for many years is along our South East coast, especially  Wareham near Dorset where I would love to see Monkey World and the incredible work they do there. The chance to go there with my camera would be exceptional. The world of primates and their behaviour is something else that has always fascinated me. There are also some other fascinating places along that coast I would love to see, such as the  Jurassic Coast in Dorset as well as Bournemouth, Swanage, Portsmouth, Southampton and then the inner counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxford, there is so much out there that I would love to explore.

Where I am working at the moment, I have been very fortunate that we are right close by a local nature reserve, as a result of this, although I wasn’t  able to have had a holiday again in 2015 it has meant I have been able to get out and about to local places with my camera and brush up on my photography skills which in turn has increased my passion in wildlife photography and bird watching and scenery.  This is again something I would very much like to expand on this year given the right chance to pursue it, and perhaps even enter a few photo competitions. I even made a new friend in the reserve, a little Robin who now allows me to come right up to him within about 3 to 4 feet away and let me take photos of him. In addition to this I leave him a little bit of fat ball and bird seed ( and I found out a few months ago he is partial to a few odd crumbs of a well know brand of digestive biscuits) In more recent weeks I have been gradually getting him to come onto my hand and feed off me that way, he flutters above my hand, but is still not quite sure yet.  This will be a challenge for me over the coming weeks, to get him to trust me enough to come and settle on my hand to feed.

 

KNNR - DEC 2015 (2)KNNR - DEC 2015 (16) KNNR - DEC 2015 (51) KNNR - DEC 2015 (3)

The one thing I am really thankful for (that despite two very severe angina attacks that my father suffered in the lead up to Christmas week, both were severe enough to put him in hospital for a couple of days at a time) that he has come out the other side of it and is still with is. He still isn’t out of the woods yet, and has a long way to go with having to see a consultant cardiologist this month and having more tests and some changes to his heart medication, but it was a relief and it was so good that he was out of hospital in time to be able to spend Christmas day with us at my brother and sister in-laws, despite not feeling too good still.  Over the last two to three years, Christmas has become more precious to me in certain ways, because it means another one where the family can as a complete unit spend time together. It isn’t about who can buy the best presents or who spends the most money, it’s most importantly about family time. Throughout most of  the year our lives are so busy, that we tend to have very little time to celebrate until it’s such an occasion as Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I always see members of my family throughout the year, but for us all to sit around the same table on Christmas day and share the meal, a couple of drinks and some chatter is for me very special. It is as people have said to me over the years we only ever get to see the entire family of aunts, uncles, cousins together if it is a wedding, special birthday celebration or a funeral.

I am looking forward to 2016 in some ways, in other ways I am being very cautious, I do have goals that I would like to reach, I look forward to new and hopefully exciting challenges, and at the same time i would like to find more inner peace and contentment. I hope and pray that wars and terrorism will cease, and I hope that the year ahead will be better and brighter for everyone.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and may you find happiness, good health and peace and may the year ahead be a brighter one.

 

 

Year

Happy, Happy New Year!
We wish you all the best,
Great work to reach your fondest goals,
And when you’re done, sweet rest.

We hope for your fulfillment,
Contentment, peace and more,
A brighter, better new year than
You’ve ever had before.

By Joanna Fuchs

INDIAN BLUE PEAFOWL - DUDLEY ZOO - FEB 2015 (143) Edit

Happy New Year 2016 – photo created by Sootykins/ Sue Westwood Photography (C) 2015

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

Whats holding me together?

What is holding me together at the moment?

I would guess this is the sort of question most of us have to ask ourselves at one time or another. For others, I have no doubt they probably think it’s a stupid question and wouldn’t want to give it a second thought.

As my regular followers are aware, depression has been a major part of my life for well over a decade, with the right medication and help, its been kept under control One tends to catastrophise when in certain situations, panic sets in, anxiety levels get high, we think the worst possible scenarios and before we know it were down on our knees asking why me, why now, what have I done to deserve this, and then the rot sets in. Sometimes for so many, unfortunately, the point of no return and the point of meltdown begins. I know all to well from personal experience things can change at the drop of a hat

In a very recent post I described  my week from hell. That week was just the start.  A great deal more has happened since then. On Friday of last week my temporary contract of employment was up, and despite actively seeking new employment there and else where it seems that has now got to go on hold….for the next few weeks at least, due entirely to a physical health problem that I have had to endure this past couple of weeks finally coming to ahead. On Saturday morning my faithful companion Sootykins died of old age.

My Aunts cancer treatment has had to be delayed by at least another week following problems with her blood pressure, and already being diagnosed as stage 3, that is obviously not a good thing to delay treatment. My two younger cousins are going through a dreadful time at the loss of their mom.  All this has left me feeling a little guilty because as a family member I am currently unable to offer my support physically or emotionally to any of them, I suppose namely in fear of knowing what I am going through myself, I will have another breakdown, and won’t be able to hold it together for much longer. Which is why I do ask the question, what is holding me together.

Over the past week after being admitted to hospital last Sunday & Monday and pending further investigation, I have continued to feel generally ‘unwell’ in myself on a physical level. Over this last weekend, things did not improve, come Monday morning I had a great job interview opportunity, which even now thinking about it, I still don’t know how I got through it. Determination I suppose more than anything, but on the way back home from the interview, I began to feel horribly unwell, fever and chills and I nearly passed out on the bus, and I was experiencing  an intolerable amount of pain, that no amount of pill popping painkillers would calm down. I had two options to call my GP surgery and get an emergency appointment with one of the GP’s or present myself at A&E again. I wasn’t panicking at this stage, but I was extremely worried and thought the quickest option was to get to see my GP and hope they could resolve the problem quickly.  I did mange to get an emergency appointment for later that Monday morning. On seeing one of the GP’s I described the pain, where it was, how I was feeling in general. On taking my temperature which was higher than it should have been, and doing a brief examination I then found myself on way to hospital yet again.

To cut a long story short I had developed an internal  infected perineal abscess and haematoma in  a rather personal area of the human anatomy. In other words to put it nicely and politely, I couldn’t and still can’t sit down properly!! I was immediately admitted to hospital and advised that I would need  emergency surgery under a general anaesthetic, but before that they would need to try to get my temperature down and fight the infection with IV antibiotics and paracetamol and give me some strong pain relief.  I don’t remember much about the rest of the day, other than I was sweating buckets and then late in the evening the anesthetist visited me and advised me I would be taken down to theatre as an emergency asap. I remember talking to the surgeon as I went in to theatre and was being put under. Next thing I was being brought around in recovery, fell back to sleep and later waking up on the ward feeling somewhat better than the past several days and finally out of that excruciating pain.

Having been released home last night the recovery process is going to take several weeks. Because this is a wound that has to be left to drain, and therefore cannot be stitched, it means I am going to need the daily services of a local district nurse to daily clean and pack the wound. All this could take anything up to about 6 weeks, in the meantime I can’t actively seek new employment  as I am unable to currently travel anywhere by public transport, unable to sit or stand for periods of time and need to continue with two different strong antibiotics for another week in order to get the infection sorted. I have no income coming in and no savings, but still need to pay my bills, and yet with all this going on in my life for some unknown reason I am holding it together, and I have to ask myself the question…Why?

Am I finally beating this depression and not allowing it to overtake my life, or is there another reason?

Is this the calm before the storm?

Or have I finally started to understand how to take control of my depression and keep it at arms length?

Have I developed a new coping mechanism, that even I am not aware of?

May be I have finally found away to deal with each individual problem as they come along, even though this time several have all come along at once again?

May be on this huge battlefield called life I have learnt to win the odd battle here and there and this has made a difference?

May be I have underestimated myself?

So many questions unanswered. I wish I knew the correct answer. I know, as do many others depression just does not go away when it feels like it. Medication is a huge help, but it’s not the be all and end all of the depression.

One more thing I can say for any one who reads my blog and has suffered from this particular type of abscess, you have my sympathy.

 

Many thanks for stopping by

Bitter sweet!

Life had been a little bitter for me in the 3 months whilst I was out of work, but then when I started my temporary contract of employment with Mondelez International at Cadbury’s in Bournville, Birmingham…..the sweetness returned once again 😉 and that is not just in reference to a sweet chocolate bar.

I am aware I haven’t written any posts recently, but my job has kept me so busy and fulfilled. And I have to admit that when my contract with them is up in November, I am so going to miss it all so much, unless I am fortunate to secure a permanent post within the company, which I do hope so……but only time will tell.

My experience with this company has been nothing short of momentous. The experience and the knowledge I have gained has been incredible. It hasn’t been so much a job, but more a way of life. I have met some fantastic people and made many new friends, and in such a short time learnt so much about this massively global company and what it represents.

I can remember thinking when I first started working for this company, it would simply be interesting to see how that one yummy  bar of chocolate is created, and then ends up tickling  our taste buds. What I hadn’t realized was just how much work goes on behind the scenes in numerous departments to ensure totally that each and every bar of chocolate is a perfect product of enjoyment. I have been incredibly surprised to find out just what is involved in ensuring that all their products are looked after with such dedication to ensure it reaches the consumer in absolute prime condition and can therefore be enjoyed at its utmost in those few moments of pleasure. And this is not just down to bars of chocolate, Mondelez are responsible for so many other brand names of foods, and each and every product has the same incredible level of dedicated service and the highest level of care from choosing its producers, through production, even wrapping and then storage and transportation, right up to the moment it reaches us the consumer. Nothing is left to chance, everything has to be just so perfect, so that you, me and millions of people around the world can enjoy their favourite snack.

In addition to all this, I have found that for the first time in several years my mind has become significantly challenged in the work I do on the Co Pack  admin side of my job, this in itself I have found challenging and rewarding and has been part of the experience of helping me enjoy this job and indeed my life in general.  With depression, your self-esteem and confidence have a nasty habit of dwindling away to nothing, other times it can drop like an exploding bomb through a building by being wiped out ever so quickly, so in effect every day you survive becomes a challenge in itself………just to simply  carry on surviving. But these other challenges in my job, have served to remind me that I do have the ability and now a little bit  more confidence in myself. I have proved substantially my competence at doing certain things and carrying out certain tasks with a great team of management and colleagues, tasks I have never done before but have proved to others, and more importantly to myself that I can do them.  I have become more aware and understanding of why conformance plans and KPI reporting are so vitally important. I have also developed a much more intense understanding as to why planning production so far in advance is so vitally important to production of goods at the correct time, and everything that is involved behind the scenes, including ensuring the product itself has the correct wrapping on it.  The work may sometimes be repetitive, but it also ensures one never becomes complacent. I love the way this company does business, it is so open, which in this day and age is so refreshing to see, it is one of the few organizations who truly value its customers as well as the people who work for them. Oh, and I must not forget to mention they really do produce some delightful and fantastic snacks and food products, after all we are ALL entitled to enjoy moments of pleasure and joy.

Last week I had an appointment with my GP, the usual check up on my medication and to see how I am coping, even she had noticed a change in me from my last visit before I got this job. Once again we briefly talked about the chance of being eventually able to reduce and come off my meds. This would certainly be a challenge for me, but we both agreed it would be better to wait a little longer. Once this job contract does finish, unless I am in the position of walking into another job straight away, then we both know I am in for a very rough ride again. And so yet again, I will have to postpone reducing the higher dose of anti-depressant, before finally, I hope, completely do without them entirely.

Talking with one of my managers yesterday, he asked me if I was ok, I mentioned to him that I had panic attack a few nights ago. It had left me feeling somewhat physically and mentally drained.  It was about  the sudden realization that my contract was coming to an end, the lady whose job I have been covering will be coming back from maternity leave in a few weeks time, and my time in the job would be up. It hit me out of the blue, where do I go from here and what to do and what do I do next? Despite proving myself and my abilities as one individual within this job role within this global organization, it now means I have got to go through a period of uncertainty in applying to other companies for jobs. I have been promised an excellent reference, which is great, but the problem lies out there again with the job agencies and the companies who pick and choose a small hand full from hundreds of applicants. This means for every 50 to 100 jobs you apply for your lucky to get noticed enough to get just 1 or 2 interviews. Presenting yourself and handing over a glowing reference and being given a job offer is one thing, but just getting to that particular stage in this day and age is another story. In the meantime I have got to try to stay positive.

So unless a miracle does happen and another job becomes available within this organization in the next few weeks, then it looks like I am going to have to re write my CV from scratch and re invent myself….and so there sits another challenge for this weekend for me. Anyway I had best get started 😉   in the meantime, its time for some chocolate 🙂

 

 

 

Have a great weekend everyone, and many thanks for stopping by.