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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

New year, new beginnings.

It seems that my faith and hope is finally paying off. Still along way to go, but I am getting there. And I am realizing more than ever than certain things really do happen for a reason even though we cannot see or understand it at the time, and somehow I wonder if they happen to make us stronger than before.

This afternoon whilst resting up at home I wanted to find a  poem to explain how I have felt today.

This time of year is not a good time for many of us, more so for those of us  who suffer depression. The weather has been awful, which in itself contributes to how worse one can feel. Over the past 2 years I have had more than my fair share of set backs, and especially so these past 2 months.

There has been a lot of trauma going on with my family, as well as my own health problems. In November I was twice rushed into hospital, a week apart, the second time was for emergency surgery. The week before however, was just as frightening,  heavy bleeding from the bowel was in itself terrifying, not knowing the cause was even worse. Since that point in time I have been waiting to have a Sigmoidoscopy procedure carried out to determine whether or not something sinister was going on. Later on that same week my temporary contract of employment came to an end, but there were a couple of really good opportunities for me in the jobs field, both of which I passed the first stage interview. However, because of the problem of having the surgery and being laid up for  a month I had to pull out of the running for both of these jobs, and in actual fact was not well enough to look for new job as I could not commit myself to travelling to an interview, let alone committing myself to a start date had I been fortunate to have been offered one of the jobs.

Since mid December however, despite the holiday season, I have been looking at and applying for numerous jobs mostly on the internet, through recruitment agencies.  The disappointment has yet again been bitter. It’s only my opinion, but I do feel that the government need to do something to look at the way jobs are advertised through agencies and how companies in fact recruit for some of these jobs via these agencies. Many have ‘misleading information’ in many cases the wages are of minimum national average, but the work levels required is so high. It is no wonder that people will refuse to apply for many of these jobs, simply because the money on offer will not pays all the necessary bills.

A perfect example last week, I applied via an online agency, was redirected to the actual company website, I duly completed their online application form and submitted it. Now, I do need to point out that this particular  job I applied for was exactly, and I do mean exactly what I had been doing for over a year. It was in effect a position where one had to learn and gain specialized knowledge of watch parts, and the protocols of servicing and knowledge of suppliers, and I have to point out that not too many people have that knowledge or experience, so I can say with all honesty I came up to spec. When I read the job description I was able to tick all the boxes. Less than 2 hours later I received an email saying that…….

”After careful consideration we regret to inform you that we will not be progressing your application further on this occasion. The standards of applications were particularly high on this occasion and we have found candidates who more closely match the requirements for the role.”

Ummm, it makes one wonder and I had to laugh to myself, and then ask the question about which candidates who more closely match the requirements……what could be more closely matched than someone who had actually done that exact job?  My only thought was that, someone from within that same company had ‘already got the job’ and as usual the protocol is that any job vacancy still has to be advertised by law, and so this particular company went through the rig morale of doing that, even though no one from outside ever stood a chance.

All that aside, the start to the New Year has not been a good one on the job front….yet, and I really do need to get back in the saddle asap.

However, today I did receive some very good news on the health front. A huge sigh of relief. Only known to just a very small handful of family and very close friends, the past two months I have lived with the worry and the indications that I may have bowel cancer. I was supposed to have had the Sigmoidoscopy procedure in November within two weeks of being discharged from hospital after my first emergency, this was all arranged by the consultant during the week that followed my first emergency admittance into hospital on 2nd Nov, but my second admittance into hospital and the surgery as well as the recovery time from the  surgery delayed all this. Today however the procedure was carried out and I have been given the all clear 🙂

I have to admit, being laid up at home for a month and only being able to go down to my doctor’s surgery for that time meant that I was not able to get out with my camera. That changed last week and in between job searching and worrying I did get out twice with my camera. (watch this space!) despite all these set backs, things are starting to look up again, faith and hope are replacing worry and anxiety, and that is why I feel this poem is so fitting and appropriate.

 

GODS FLIGHT.

On the ground sits a bird
that’s too afraid to fly.
Beautiful wings could make it soar,
but the pain of past failure is it’s lonesome cry.

God has said unto this bird,
“Trust and have faith in me,
for I will carry you in your flight.
The miracle of life is waiting for you to see.”

The bird said to God, “But I can’t fly.
I am weak. I will fall and feel pain
It’s happened before when I tried to fly.
I’m afraid of being hurt again.”

His voice soft and reassuring, God said to the bird,
I created you, and I will protect you.
Your lonesome cry I have heard.
Have faith in me. That’s all you need to do.

So, stand up, bird, and spread your wings.
The wings I lovingly created to let you fly.
If you fall I’ll pick you up,
and lift you back into the sky.”

With trembling legs and unsure wings
the bird finally looked to the sky.
It took a deep breath, and took the chance.
The bird began to fly.

“Thank you, God, for believing in me.
Thank you for giving me wings.
Thank you for your protecting hands.
Your glory I will now sing.”

God smiled unto the bird
in its majestic flight.
“Little bird, I’ll always be with you,
and will protect you with all my might.

You may stumble. You may fall.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t care.
I will watch over you, in case you need help,
and then I’ll be right there.”

The little bird, once so scared,
learned to soar to new heights.
The occasional fall no longer scared the bird,
choosing to have faith in Gods flight.

(by: Heather L Flood)

Many thanks for stopping by.

Living up to its name!

During recent weeks, since losing my job last month, it has been difficult  for me to me stay on top, so far I’m glad to say I have managed to do this. Mainly because I have  managed to do a balancing act in more ways than one. At the moment my blogs name Day By Day is living up to its name. It is about getting through this  time day by day, rather than looking way too far ahead into the future.

Job searching is mentally exhausting as well as frustrating and demoralising, and it does put a huge dent in your already low confidence level.

Hour after hour, day after day I have been doing what is required of me by the government. However, the one thing I have become extremely aware of this past week or two is that enough is enough. You can only do so much on-line with job applications, namely because you’re not getting any reply or feedback from any employers or agencies that you are applying for. Every day I get job alerts from several sites, but I am finding as is the case with most of these alerts, it is the exact same jobs and details that are being emailed to me continuously over several weeks, I know this because I systematically go through them and move them from my inbox in to a file and do a comparison.

As a result of all this, I decided to split each of my weeks up and make good use of them, not just with the job searching but also by staying mentally afloat by getting out with my camera. I have come to realise that I need that spark in my life at the moment, in order to keep on top of the job searching and without allowing to let myself get deflated. This has meant over the past month through  May, I have (weather conditions permitting) split my weeks up and allowed myself the luxury of having a ride out somewhere with a packed lunched and my trusty camera to take in some local sights, the odd day here or there.

The combination of good fresh air, peaceful surroundings, water, beautiful scenery and the odd few animals is what inspires me most of all. This way of thinking has enabled me to visit a couple of local parks, as well as Birmingham Nature Reserve/Centre, Birmingham Botanical Gardens and a relaxing stroll along the River Severn in Worcester. In addition to this on 20th April, I had an exceptional day out by coach at Longleat Safari and House in Wiltshire. As you can imagine, this gave me the chance to take many photos for my personal collection, in fact if I tell you now it is no exaggeration that I have taken over 5,000 photos in the last 5 weeks. However by the time these are cropped, edited and any insignificant or poor quality ones are deleted I’m only left with a mere 3,500 or so. Obviously there is no chance to show you all of them but in my next couple of blog writings I will show you a selection of some of my favourites. In the mean time here are a few as a taster and an idea of what to expect.

 

Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

 

BIRMINGHAM BOTANICAL GARDENS - MAY 2014 (1382) BIRMINGHAM BOTANICAL GARDENS - MAY 2014 (1483) BIRMINGHAM BOTANICAL GARDENS - MAY 2014 (1390) BIRMINGHAM BOTANICAL GARDENS - MAY 2014 (365)

BIRMINGHAM BOTANICAL GARDENS - MAY 2014 (812) BIRMINGHAM BOTANICAL GARDENS - MAY 2014 (831) BIRMINGHAM BOTANICAL GARDENS - MAY 2014 (187)

 

Birmingham Nature Reserve.

 

BIRMINGHAM NATURE CENTRE - MAY 2014 (260) BIRMINGHAM NATURE CENTRE - MAY 2014 (150) BIRMINGHAM NATURE CENTRE - MAY 2014 (570) BIRMINGHAM NATURE CENTRE - MAY 2014 (752)

 

 

Worcester.

WORCESTER - MAY 2014 (409)

WORCESTER - MAY 2014 (675)

Longleat Safari Park & House.

LONGLEAT APRIL 2014 (596) LONGLEAT APRIL 2014 (682) LONGLEAT APRIL 2014 (365) LONGLEAT APRIL 2014 (300) LONGLEAT APRIL 2014 (496)

 

Sheldon Country Park.

SHELDON COUNTRY PARK - MAY 2014 (121) SHELDON COUNTRY PARK - MAY 2014 (172) SHELDON COUNTRY PARK - MAY 2014 (706) SHELDON COUNTRY PARK - MAY 2014 (851) SHELDON COUNTRY PARK - MAY 2014 (1164)

 

 

Brueton Park, Solihull.

 

BRUETON PARK SOLIHULL - MAY 2014 (16) BRUETON PARK SOLIHULL - MAY 2014 (39) BRUETON PARK SOLIHULL - MAY 2014 (725)

 

Many thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend.

Out with the old, in with the new!!

Over the last few days I have had the time to reflect upon these past 12 months……and what an extremely mixed year 2012 has been,  not just for me, but I dare say for millions more out there.  If one had believed all the tabloid nonsense, then the world should have ended last week! But were still here and ready for the new year to arrive. And although this was not planned in any shape or form, my final posting for this year ends in a nice round even 100 entries on my blog.

The last part of this year, in many ways I suppose in a way I have ended up coming out on top,  rather than the dreadful start I had in the first quarter of this year. But if nothing else this year has taught me to not only look at my own negatives, but to also find my positives and inner strengths, some of which were waiting there to pop out at the right time but only now I have begun to realise I  lacked the courage to explore previously, probably because I was so scared and felt so insecure to make decisions which would affect me directly and instead of thinking each decision might or might not make a difference, I only believed that they would have a negative impact on my life. And whilst I appreciate its early days yet, I don’t regret for even one single moment my decision in taking my early release from  work on grounds of compulsory redundancy.  Although I still have a great deal to ‘adjust’ to. A few more months would have given me just that little bit more financial stability perhaps, but nothing else…..after all the end result would have been the same.

I believe now I have given myself the chance to take some time out, to get myself better mentally and physically. Even if it is only three or four months, it will give me the chance to explore possibilities, do things I have wanted to do for many years but just never gotten around to doing them. A very dear friend of mine C J often tells me how much I inspire her, but little does she know that it’s actually the other way around. This lady has had  so much in her life to contend with, on a personal, physical and mental health level and yet she still always manages to find the physical determination and strength, and always finds a smile and a hug when we meet up for a coffee and chat.  She truly amazes me, and she makes me laugh….a lot. And I have to say there are very few people who can do that for me. Our friendship has given me a new outlook on life, and for that I am  truly thankful.

My only plans are for the next couple of months are to enjoy myself, get out and do some photography, something that I have unfortunately not been able to do for these past few weeks, visit and explore new places (all this weather and health permitting of course) if not then I have plenty of art and craft projects to try to focus my mind on. None of this will prevent me  from looking for that new all important job, just in case the right one pops up unexpectedly. But the events of 2012 has  played a major part in my decision to finally take that little time out, and sit back and enjoy the things in life that really do count……my family, friends and the pursuit of happiness.

There are many uncertainties that lie ahead of me in this coming year, as there are for all of us. No one can predict the path they have to travel, each and every day will be different, some days will be good, others not so good. But I have begun over this past year to actually understand that what so ever happens does so for a reason, although we cannot understand it at the time that it happens. And as strange as this may sound, I have begun to appreciate this year to accept and encompass the bad things that have happened in my life, because only then can I truly appreciate the good things when they happen and to fully understand the difference.

Strange as this may actually sound I don’t have any actual set plans for the year ahead, because by following the plans, and plotting your own path that when things do go wrong and the disappointment sets in then it only makes it harder to deal with the fallout. So I have decided only a couple of things will happen, yes, I will find a new job, I will make every effort to have a holiday to Scotland as I have wanted to do for so long, and yes I want to devote more time to doing the things I enjoy doing such as photography and art. Apart from that I will have to wait and see what life has to offer me, and take each and every day as it comes and make the most of it. So look out 2013 here I come!!

 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my fellow bloggers and readers of  Day By Day, a very happy, healthy, prosperous and fulfilling time in the year ahead. I hope all your dreams turn out the way you want them to, and that each and every one of you finds the happiness and contentment that  we all so deserve. I would also like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your continued support in reading and commenting in my blog, and hope that I can continue to keep you all interested in the year ahead.

 

A very Happy New Year to each and everyone one of you.