Which Direction the Future will Take and Finding My Happy

Alternative title: Getting my Act Together.

Another Note to Self:
No, you cannot sit around in your PJ’s, or your shorts and flip flops all Summer dreaming and writing.
Yes, you will wear make up again.
You will probably straighten your hair too.
You will have to put shoes on again
Barefoot, Makeup free and scruffy is not considered acceptable work attire.

“Sod It!” I cry, like my inner six year old. “Then perhaps I should go and live on the hill, write interesting books and blogs and try to become self sufficient.”
“Well my little one,” says the voice of reason…
“In time maybe, however first you need to pay some bills and fund this lavish, self sufficient dream. It takes money and how will you actually feel about slaughtering the animals you love and have nurtured when running your self-sufficient lifestyle?”

Erm. Well, that’s just it isn’t it…. In a nutshell. Although I have loved the idea of running a farm, or smallholding since I was that six year old child and drew a picture of me selling bread from the window of our farm cottage, a ruddy faced farmer (Shaun my very first “boyfriend” aged six) standing proudly by a red tractor, and stating that “When I grow up, I want to be a Farmer, Shaun will drive the tractor Marianne (his sister) will milk the cow.” Now there is no Shaun or Marianne, Instead I want to drive the tractor and still bake bread, and the reality of what happens to animals on a farm, might just be too difficult for me to cope with myself. I do not like pain, causing it or receiving it. It saddens me deeply. And in all these years of talking about it, I can honestly say that I haven’t during my dream thought about the logistics. I have a friend who has animals, her husband deals with the disappearances of the piglets they look after and comes back with sausages and bacon, but I don’t think they “lose” any chickens and they have laying hens for eggs. Am I too sensitive to follow this particular dream? It’s the first time I have looked at this from this angle, clearly trying to skirt the issue in all these years.

I guess all this soul searching stems from yesterday. I was updating my CV and spent hours searching for another job. Finances dictate that I must do something that earns my keep and again I am feeling under pressure and clueless as to the direction it will take me. More and more I am deciding what I don’t want from my next job. The people I don’t want to be around and the situations I do not want to place myself in. Putting up barriers before I begin, in the name of protection. I am not prepared to have a re-run of the past next time around.

So finding a proper job, what will I do and where will I go. What will I be? Some high flyer in a wonderful company, or just scraping through, barely covering my bills. As the hopes and fears rise within my thoughts and chest, I am clueless and feel powerless to choose. Could I work outside? Yes, part of me wants to, but only in the summer months as I am not attuned to the cold or damp. My body is simply not set up for winter outside. It is also not prepared to allow me to push it into the daily demands of a manual job outside.
I like people, customer faced roles and B2B have suited me thus far. I like to talk on the phone and interact with my customers. Build the relationships which help the business and I’m successful at it.
I like using the computer and finding out about the systems which provide data and information for the business. Although I also like working odd hours and on my own. I’m pretty good at motivating a team and setting them in the right direction.

I’m not a massively social person, although I love a good get together, I’m no longer your boozy nightclubbing kind of gal and I really don’t like football, or want to know much about it. I recently described the experience as “wasted Saturday afternoons of my youth, standing freezing in fields” which didn’t exactly inspire the person I was talking to. I was supposed to be cheering on the team but was too cold to care and just wanted to get in the pub with the rest of them.  So as the football season is in full swing, I am relieved that I am not stuck in an environment, when there is talk of little else or have it shoved at me via large screens in every pub.

I do try to fit in but these subjects just aren’t my thing so I tend to feel like a fish out of water. As though I am missing interaction on a different level and alienating myself in the process, but I can’t help it. I do like European travel, architecture, nice Art, Music (I mean real music) DIY, Cars, Cooking, Photography, Writing and so much more and I am happy to hold a grown up conversation which is more than about what’s on TV or which team won. I don’t watch a great deal of TV, soaps, football or reality stuff where everybody sounds the same, I can’t stand it. More and more I prefer not to watch killing sprees and abuse and drug addiction which seems to have become the norm on our small screens, I have seen more than enough of that in real life, it isn’t drama it is sick and the world has become more depraved. I’m not one for vigorous beauty treatments, plastic surgery or enhancements. It just doesn’t appeal to me. Instead I wash, cleanse, tone, try to keep fairly fit, exercise but not quite as often as I should. I have regular hair cuts and decent skin. I don’t like putting excess chemicals on or in my face, hair and body. So I’m not a make up aficionado, preferring a clean, natural look with the benefit of a neutral palette when I use it. My days of purple or turquoise mascara, or yellow and green eye shadow are gone. Well I was a teenager in the late 80’s, so it WAS normal back then! I don’t even wear nail varnish, let alone fake nails and prefer a natural tan, not the orange spray that people insist is healthier. Hmm, so to spray tinted chemical all over your skin, which gets right into your system is healthier than sun and vitamin E in moderation? Really? I opt for sun every time.

I’ve always preferred the company of my elders, they know so much. I have a thirst for learning, which I think came from disliking school. I was often bullied, miserable there and couldn’t wait to leave. But I had respect for my elders and in later years, regretted not learning as much as I could in that time. So now I try to learn from the people around me, by listening, watching and reading in the school of life and I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge. I don’t claim to be clever, or an expert in anything, but I’m certainly not thick either.

So, why do I feel as though I am sitting here writing a classified ad, trying to sell myself to the world and convince everyone that I am a good person and ultimately employable?
Perhaps it should read, Likes country walks, talking, music, late nights. It feels like a profile for a date. But as I research the latest how to guides for getting your resume out there and getting it seen, we are told that it is not important what you enjoy in your spare time, what your interests are. They the job search robots are programmed to look for keywords, or phrases and if your wonderful artistically written resume does not contain those specifics, then you will be binned without a second thought or glance.
I beg to differ, (Quelle surprise!) If someone has wildly different interests in their spare time to everyone else, then they are not going to fit in, they will have a different dynamic and this might cause issue. More and more I have found that if you do not like at least some of the same things, then you are an outcast, people make the mistake of thinking that you are posh, or aloof and have a preset opinion of how they will treat you which is extremely difficult to break.

So the resume is preparation for a date of sorts, with whatever the future holds, with what route I choose to take next. Along with a little role play involved. Hmm, will I fancy it, the outcome? Will there be that essential chemistry, enough to ignite the passion of my new career? Or is it already there bubbling under the surface and waiting like a volcano to erupt and surprise people?

Tell the inner child that I cannot be the barefoot princess, tiptoeing around the safety of my patio garden and playing with the dog. There is more to life than time with the family, relaxed and in comfortable clothes, eating when we are hungry, enjoying the late evening walks, sleeping when we are tired and doing housework and other jobs when I am not. With no set routine to time. A luxury that I have not enjoyed for such a long time and have missed. No-one else calling the shots with little expectation, merely that the house is clean and tidier, the bills are paid and there is food on the table. We want for little, less physical pain in our bodies and we are happy for this time together. We are not perfect, our opinions do differ, there are sometimes cross words. Usually when outside influences or interference upsets our apple cart, shatters our peace or something throws an unexpected spanner in the works. But generally, our life has been simple and happy these past few months.

Around Christmas time I saw a friend of mine who I used to work with. We were very close when we worked together and I think of her like a sister. We got on so well from the minute we began work together and this continued after she and I both moved on. She told me that I needed to take time out to do something that made me happy now. She was not the first to say this to me, in fact several people have told me that I should not spend my time thinking about everyone else, but must consider my own needs too.
It isn’t about how much we can earn, or who we can please in our work. It should be about finding your happiness. Being satisfied with what you have been served and just dealing with it, in whatever way you know how to. Or learning a new way to get through. She told me to stop worrying about the money I felt that I needed to make, however as the earner in the household, I must admit I had difficulty in doing that and still do.

My friend was right though, finding my happy again has been more important than finding the next well paid, dead end job that steals my time, my personality and my happiness, in the name of a growth, success or a career. I needed to take a step backwards and think outside the box, hell, throw the box away completely and focus on the new important Oh and Breathe whilst I figured it all out. She is a Yoga teacher, she is used to getting stressed out people to breathe, that is just one of her many gifts. In doing so she did me a real favour. Her chat with me came at just the right time, it saved me from jumping in, Head first with both feet again, something which I was ill equipped to do at the time. It gave me the confidence to ask for time to heal from the bad experiences I had encountered and protect myself for the future and take it. It gave me time with my family, right when I needed it and the luxury of relying upon those closest to me for the support when it was needed. Not everyone gets to do that. Although my transformation is far from complete I feel that I am making progress and am grateful for the encouragement.

I still want to strive, succeed and do something great. I might not be sure what it is yet, but I do believe that I will do it and I will be happy. In the past few months, I’ve made a good start on the happiness front, different things now drive me. My goals are changing, they include the little things and some are attainable, with hard work and persistence.
These small steps will lead to bigger and better achievements I am sure.
My view of success may not bring fortunes to our lives, however it just might and wouldn’t that be amazing! Will I achieve the holy grail of a great work/life balance and a career?

Will I become the inspiration that drives other people to fulfil their own goals? Will people follow in my footsteps one day? I want to Inspire! I used to do that in people, so therefore I can. I just have to find the right ones and nurture and mentor them. Make them believe in themselves and their abilities and I haven’t lost that. I have an excitement surrounding my future, a zest for a good life and renewed vigour, suddenly at 3.30am to go and find it.

A Racing Certainty

IMG_1140As she chased her dreams of doing something with her life, she would enter a National competition with the chance to become a racing driver. The Exchange and Mart Drivers Challenge and it was run by Tim Matthews who was an experienced racing driver. Never thinking for a moment that she had much more than a slim chance, but seizing the opportunity anyway after all what did she have to lose?

She loved Cars and driving and if she could combine the two in a future career, then that would be fantastic.
More wonderful than that, she had a man who believed in her. It was the most exhilarating feeling to have someone in her life who did, who encouraged her to try something new and was behind her all the way.

She sent off the forms and began work to increase her fitness and stamina. Her strength was there, it just needed some fine tuning and whilst she did this she did not think about the application, she was just concentrating on getting fitter and stronger. So imagine her surprise when some short time later, she received a letter. She was invited to Worcester Rugby Club to take part in the first selection of the competition. She spoke to her boss about it, booking a couple of days leave so that she could prepare and he couldn’t quite believe that she had any aspirations. This was someone he had underestimated greatly and assumed that her position as she had risen through the company was as far as she was going to get.   He was flabbergasted, since his privileged son, who had an amateur career in Go-Karting had only dreamed of such an opportunity, despite his entering it had not been selected for the competition. There was this girl, with no prior experience of racing, who had been selected. She surely wouldn’t get through the first round and it would be all over in a flash, then he could take delight in reminding her that she had failed every day and that she was not good enough. It would soon be over and he would control the situation once again.

They travelled to the location and booked into a hotel the day before, it was a beautiful place with rolling scenery. The morning arrived and they set off to the venue. The place was jammed to the rafters, 1000 people had been chosen to be put through their paces. They were informed that 10,000 people had entered the competition and they were the lucky ones, as the competition progressed the heats would be recorded for a TV programme, if we were going to become racing drivers, then we would have to get used to the limelight. As a shy person, she wasn’t sure how to deal with this, but would do so if the time came.
Meanwhile, as the day progressed, when she was called for each task, she ran, listened, showed her strengths and jumped through proverbial hoops and impressed the judges enough for the selection with her man cheering her on, overjoyed in her achievement she was one of 100 people selected for the next round. As the event finished, she walked past someone who she recognised who had contracted work with her company. He stopped in amazement asking her what she was doing there miles from home. I got through, she said. She mistook his surprise for a new found respect, she had been placed in the second round, but he had not.

The next round, was scheduled, she booked another day off work to enable her to go, and at the weekend they headed off up to Birmingham, The next round of the competition was interviews and Go Karting, it was a competition track. She was excited, but the only time she had been go-karting was down along the pier in the amusement arcades, but she loved it and was hopeful that this experience would teach her. The weather was awful, he drove them through the worst storms and snow she had seen. It was cold wintry and people were standing around for hours awaiting their turn, she had dressed for warmth wearing ski jackets, layers and snow boots, in this freezing climate. It was mostly boys and men there, in a racing environment it was to be expected, but this did not phase her. She was going to give it her all.

They went through the track layout and how you should plan for the twists and turns, around the chicane and towards the finish. She watched intently as some of the other drivers took to the wet track, she noted their mistakes and hoped that when her turn came, she would do better. She listened to the instructions given by the racing driver, Tiff Needell who had become a celebrity as he extolled the virtues of learning the basics. It might be nice to meet him in person and shake him by the hand, she had admired his skill on the tracks over the years.
There was a race simulator set up alongside the track, the queues to have a go were lengthy and she did not want to miss her name being called, it would be there later, should she wish to try it.  Her time came, as she dressed in the race suit for the very first time, she was thrilled and excited to be a part of something big, this could turn into something much bigger if she handled it right.

She put on the helmet and found the smallest pair of gloves she could find, since this was usually a male environment they had not anticipated girls with small hands, they were enormous, she put them over ski gloves for grip and so that they would grip the steering wheel. She made a mental note that if she was going to go anywhere with this route, she would buy herself some gloves which fitted.

She walked out into the paddock with the other drivers, they ridiculed her for her snow boots whilst stamping their feet to keep warm, she didn’t care she had winning on her mind and selected her machine with care. Setting herself up for the ride of her life and drove out hell for leather on that track. She lapped several of the hopefuls and made a good track time and came back in, her Man was there with the camera, to record it for posterity. The helmet off, he could see an ear to ear smile on her face. As the other hopefuls took their turn, she was called off to one side. Mike, A man who was part of the team, had spotted her talents and wanted to talk. They sat in the meeting room with a coffee, even if you do not get through this competition, he said, there are other ways to get into racing, you seem to have a gift out there on that track. Are you competing at the moment? She tried to keep her cool, admitting to him that it was the second occasion she had ever been in a go-kart. He found that hard to believe and spoke about the projects he was involved with and that he could get young people into racing and get help with sponsorship etc, he was animated and gave her some literature to read, he advised her to continue with Karting if at all possible. He introduced her personally to the organiser and they talked about the competition and how it would progress, several rounds through to the final, where someone would be selected for the team, to join the professionals. It really was the chance of a lifetime.

After some time and more standing around they were called in to a room, to face the adjudicators. As names were called, disappointment was in the eyes of the people around her as they were whittled out. They would halve the people who attended the second round, suddenly she heard her name being called, they were pleased to tell her that she had been selected for the third round. The excitement was immense. She looked for her man, to share in the news, he stood beaming he told her she was so proud.

At the end of the day, they travelled back accidents all around them up and down the motorway, breakdowns and the snow piled high, visibility was non-existent. But they were happy and reached home safely. They discussed the next step, this is looking serious, she would have to book more time off work, she wondered how her boss would take that. The next day she called a meeting with him. He was not pleased, he told her that it was time she had to make her choice. If she really wanted to be a racing driver, then good luck to her! The raised voice made it clear he didn’t mean it, as he spat out the words. He would give her no more time off to pursue this fanciful dream, it wasn’t going to go anywhere, she should just concentrate on the work she was being paid to do, get back to doing the proper job she had working for him. All leave was cancelled, they had a business to run.

She went home, more than slightly disillusioned with her work. She wanted to leave there and then, but common sense overtook her desire to run. She spoke with her partner, there were tears of frustration and upset that she would have to put her dreams away. It was her responsibility to make ends meet, she felt that she could not pile extra pressure upon him financially, it wouldn‘t be fair. Times were different then, she hadn’t the first clue about self-promotion and is was long before social media would make it accessible for all.

It was no contest, If she had the finances, she would pursue her dream, with her man at her side, encouraging and supportive. They would have done it, she had made him proud and would do so again. He believed in her. Oh how she wished for a lottery win, or a benefactor at that time. If she could have had the chance to pay the bills, whilst forging ahead, what a career change that would be, he talent had been spotted and she might go far.

It was with great sadness that she contacted the organisers to let them know that due to work commitments, she would be unable to continue with the competition. They were disappointed, she had shown promise, chances like this just do not come along every day and the decision should not be taken lightly. She explained that without a job, she would not be able to finance the rounds and her taking part, they told her that they understood but that she should not give up, she had a talent and she should nurture it. They wished her luck with her future. She watched the TV programme later that year, they selected a man, who had a career ahead of him. Women in Motorsport, was it ever going to happen was it? There was hope.