My parental halo is glowing

Isn’t it just lovely when people compliment your children?

My friend saw my daughter last night in her place of work and commented on how friendly, confident and bubbly she was. What a delightful lovely girl, she said.

Well yes, I have to agree. She really is. And I will say right here and now, I adore her and worship the ground she walks on (and she knows it!).

In part, I have my parents to thank for how she has turned out. I analysed everything they did wrong and vowed not to be the same with my child. So instead of berating and belitting in public, as they did me, I was always supportive, encouraging, praising where due and not admonishing for the sake of it. I never allowed her to feel a failure, which I felt the whole time; rather, we would look at any situation that didn’t turn out as planned and work out what she could do differently next time to get the outcome she desired.

Surprise surprise, it worked.

I also never allowed her to be shy or clingy to me. As a rather tall child – she’s now 5ft 11″ – I encouraged her to embrace her height, never to apologise for it or feel negative about it. Rather she must be proud of her height, proud of who she is and not let others’ opinions have an effect because they have the problem, not her. She grew up understanding that whatever negativity anyone threw at her, it was always a reflection of how they felt about themselves and not directly her issue.

Fortunately, I home educated her and I say fortunately because that allowed us to focus on her aptitudes and abilities and not be forced to study subjects for which she had no interest or aptitude. When you are given that kind of freedom, and I do believe it’s freedom, to discover who you are and what you’re good at resulting more success than failure, you have a better foundation in life. It’s my belief that school seems to focus on failings rather that success in so many ways.

But I don’t believe I can take all the credit for who she is today. She has chosen to take on board all the life lessons I’ve imparted, to readily learn all the wisdom and knowledge I’ve shared to become the amazing young woman she is. If you saw us together you would say, as my friend did today, how very alike we are and it’s true; when we live together, you can almost see us blending to become one person!

I can tell you though, quite categorically, that she is very much her own person. Parenting is hard and sometimes you wonder if they will ever listen to you. But now I can quietly observe that yes, she took it all on board, she was listening to me and has built on that to become the independant confident woman I see.

And that, amongst so many other reasons that I just cannot articulate, is why I love her with every fibre of my being. If there is only one legacy from my life, she is it and it’s a pretty good legacy. I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling a failure (thanks parents!)  but I know that I shine at parenting.



Job hunting – the trials and tribulations

Obviously I have polished my CV which, by my own admittance, looks pretty good and I have experience in many areas, all transferable skills from one arena to another. What I am not that good at though is covering letters, never have been. I’ve improved slightly over the years but still, not good at selling myself on paper. If you can get me into an interview I’m home, in my natural environment person-to-person.

What I don’t understand is this: jobs are listed on the various job boards, you upload a CV and tweak it to make it look good (because they never transpose well from your document to their pre-designed layout) and then hit the apply button; they then send you an email asking you to complete an application form! Why didn’t they just do that in the first place?

This happened to me yet again yesterday and all the information is there, on my CV but no, they want you to complete this online form that takes about 45mins (in that instance). What a palava.

I’ve done my bit being a store manager now, I just don’t want to do it again. There is far too much pressure within most businesses, it’s all about the bottom line and achieving/exceeding KPIs whilst slicing staff costs to the minimum. Working everyone harder and longer without the pay and, very often, the appreciation. No thanks

I’m happy to be an ordinary bod, go in do my job go home. Don’t even mind being an asst manager, I just don’t want the ultimate responsibility, I don’t want the stress.

So here’s another problem. I am an ENTP and we have very low boredom thresholds. Very low. Usually by 3 months in I’ve learnt the job and by 6 months I’m bored and antsy. At this point I want the next challenge; in fact, I probably started looking for it around the  3-4 month mark. This quote from Prelude Character Analysis is pretty accurate:

One reason why ENTPs find it difficult to keep on track is that their boredom threshold is so low that before the project is up and running they are thinking about the next one. They also hate commitment and feeling ‘shut in,’ and so they look for easy escape routes and will take one if things become stultifying. For the ENTP the chase is the prize and they will be long gone before it gets too serious.

Oh how true. On the plus though

ENTPs are creative, fresh and interested in such a variety of things, indeed whatever takes their interest at that moment, preferably the new, the novel, the exciting. They are excellent at reading people and situations and possess a wide range of views, interests and knowledge. This may, of course, be at the expense of depth, in that the ENTP will want to quickly move on to new pursuits, often before ‘completing the course.’ They are unconventional, sporadic, work with amazing bursts of energy with an enthusiasm that can be almost tangible.

So we have redeeming features 😉  I’ve never truly found an environment that gives me that ability to use my creativity and solution finding abilities (at which I am very good). Clearly I’m looking in the wrong place but I don’t know where is the right place.

Until then, I shall aim for mediocre, again, so that it pays the bills and keep filling in these stupid application forms even though they have my CV already.

Taking steps forwards

I viewed a little shop earlier in the week and by little I do  mean little. It’s no bigger than my bedroom. Nor does it have any stockroom or kitchen, just a loo. And it’s off the high street.

All that said, it was a usable space and I could have got quite a lot in there. Not having a stockroom means not overspending on stock, thus budgeting better; let’s face it, delivery these days is almost instant from most suppliers so you really don’t need to keep too much stock on hand unless you have a huge turnover.

Location is an issue even though there are well used restaurants and other shops adjacent and the road does lead to a school and residential area. Locals would know it was there but tourists are notoriously lazy – if it’s not right under their noses on the walk up from the holiday camp to the pub, they won’t go look for it. So that bothered me.

The estate agent was less than helpful. She arrived late, opened the door and then just stood there. If I hadn’t asked any questions at all, she wouldn’t have said a thing. So much for customer service. When I could elicit some conversation from her, she informs that I would have to put in a proposal to the landlord that would need to be drawn up with a solicitor, outlining how long I wanted the lease for, what I wanted to sell, any changes internally I might like to make and of course, the very basics, could I afford it.

The following day, I receive a rather curt phone call from the estate agents asking if I have a proposal sorted (in less than 24hours?? I don’t think so) because they have one that the landlord will be happy with. In other words, too late missy.

So that’s that then.

I have begun applying for jobs in order to pay for life in general but also a coaching course. However, this idea of a little shop is still there in my mind but it has to be on the high street and I cannot see any current retailers giving up their stores any time soon. But you never know.

A note on CV’s and Covering letters:
I am really not good at selling myself on paper. If you get me into an interview I’m great but although my CV looks good, my covering letters always look lack lustre. Doesn’t matter how many times I’ve tried to make them better, I’m just really crap at them and I don’t know why it should be so. Writing is something I love to do, just not about me I guess.

Devastation and grief at losing your job

The last few weeks have been hell. Very stressful and anxiety inducing indeed. One minute we have investment in the company, then we don’t; then two bidders come along wanting to buy at least half the shops, then they are outbid by one person who wants to buy 90% of the shops. Then that falls through. Then we have someone else in the wings who wants to buy the entire company. And the courts pull the plug.

During all this time we are sat in our shops with diminishing stock, bored out of our brains and not getting paid on time or in full (but getting it eventually).

Within the space of two hours friday afternoon, our worlds fell apart. We went from a saviour for all of us to a conference call instructing us to shut the shops immediately, we are no longer trading.  The speediness with which this was implemented left us all with no real time to process it.

I feel grief at losing my work family, devastated at the loss of my job, unadulterated anger at senior management for running a brilliant company into the ground and ruining it for approx 1000 people.

After spending the weekend feeling utterly emotionally and mentally exhausted resulting in a lot of sleeping, here I am, monday morning with nothing to do. I should be going to work, doing the paperwork, counting money and getting the shop ready to open. I should be catching up with my assistant manager and having a good old chinwag as we always do monday morning.

I feel lost, without purpose.

Somehow, I don’t know how, but I usually land on my feet one way or another. Obviously I need to find another job and honestly, it doesn’t have to be a managers job, as long as it pays the rent and other necessities of life, I will be happy.

But I am left with a quandary: with all endings comes beginnings, that is the way of life.

So, do I stay in retail and if so, do I take on a small shop of my own (can’t afford to take on my old shop, its too expensive sadly) or do I just look for any old job to see me through the summer?

Or is this not just an end to our shop, it is the Universe saying time to move on from retail and do something else entirely.

I am toying with the idea of coaching, specifically small business coaching and life coaching. In fact I have been toying with the idea for a number of years but haven’t done anything about it. Maybe now is the time?

Today though, I am still in shock at the abruptness of the ending of our company whilst trying to release several weeks of anxiety and stress. I need to get my head back in the game before I can make any decisions.

Feeling broody – the urge to be a grandparent

Recently I seem to have been surrounded by pregnant customers in the shop who are all at the same stage I was 24 years ago. And it’s made me feel rather broody. Now obviously I am far too old to have a baby, seeing as I am 52 this year (when did that happen?!); not only that, I’ve been through the menopause as well as being sterilised a long time ago. So clearly, there are no more babies for me.

But that hasn’t stopped me feeling broody in the slightest.

Yesterday a friend called in the shop with her little girl to show me something. She was walking! All by herself. I’ve watched this little one turn from bump into baby, cuddled her and seen her development over the last 20 months, so it was such a delight to see her walking. She wanted to go up and down the steps into the shop holding my hand and I was immediately transported back in time.

I loved being pregnant but there are no photos of me during this special time at all because my parents tried their hardest to make me feel ashamed of being a single mother.  I loved having this small person to cuddle and call my own, raising her into the amazing young woman she is today.

She, in turn, has only ever had one true goal in life and that is to be a mum. Since the age of 4 she’s asked me religiously every year if she can have a baby yet. Let’s be clear here, she didn’t want any baby siblings, oh no, there was and still is, no way she wanted to share me with anyone. She only wanted one of her very own.

As she’s grown up, I have lightheartedly joked that she can’t have children until she’s 28 – the same age I was when I had her. When the conversation arises with friends about having kids, she tells them mum says no, not yet, she has to wait 😉

Well, I’m about to do a complete U-turn.

I am now beginning to understand the broodiness that parents have when they want to be grandparents. Is this something biological within women? I’m sure there is some research on it somewhere, some anthropological reason that’s based on our need to  keep our tribe going.

For now, I shall have to wait patiently for this momentous occasion. I don’t believe in meddling or putting any outside pressure on our children to fulfill our needs. It’s her life and it will happen when she’s ready. Even though I can’t wait be called Granny 🙂



Empty nest – it really can affect you more than you think

Four years ago my daughter announced, out of the blue that she was leaving home the following week. I had no time to prepare for this mentally or emotionally, just to help her pack and take her to her new live-in job 50+ miles away.  Of course I was excited for her – first full time job, first time living away from home – but I had no idea of how it would hit me. And it keeps on hitting.

You see, I’ve been a single parent since getting pregnant.  Her father chose not to be in her life so it’s just been me. Wherever I was, she was, pretty much. Add in to that I home educated her from the age of 8. We have been a very tight knit family all the way along.

So, once she’d left, for the first three months I quite enjoyed having the house to myself, doing what I wanted, when I wanted, no one else’s mess to clear up or live with etc. Then the cracks started to show.  I rapidly began going down hill, to the point where I was feeling suicidal.

Even though I lived on an estate and people walked past my house many times a day, I felt like I could die in that house and no one would notice. My daughter was being busy in her new job, working split shifts so not a lot of free time and so apart from work, I had no one to talk to.

She had been the person I had shared everything with, there is nothing about each other we don’t know. When you are an only parent to an only child, the bond is very close or at least it was with us; I know many other single parents who have that same close bond with their children. Without her, I felt totally lost.

I cracked up, ending up being referred to a psyciatrist for help. Not that she was much help to be honest; she just wanted to put me on medication instead of truly understanding what I was feeling.

What was my role in life if not to be a parent? What was my purpose?

Here we are, four years on and I still feel lost without her. Yes we see each other regularly, as much as our respective work schedules allow and we talk on the phone or via facebook regularly. We get on extremely well and I love being with her (although I also love being on my own, just in case you were wondering); our relationship has matured beautifully.

But I still feel lost without this purpose in my life – being a full time parent and all that that entails. I was educating her, involved with multiple home ed groups, we had horses, dogs, cats, my mum was still alive, a full calendar of activities every week. Busy busy busy.

Now I have a full time job and a great team of staff who are like my family, and I enjoy their company each and every day. But still, there is this emptiness. My purpose as a parent has been completed. That’s not to say she doesn’t need me, but she’s 23 and has her friends, her work and her own life. I am not one of those parents that continues to insert myself into their childs life even when they no longer live at home.

I still feel lost, rudderless, floating adrift on the sea with no port in sight.

I don’t suppose for one moment that I am the only parent who feels this way when their children leave home. A former work colleague with three daughters who’d all flown the nest, warned me this would happen and hit me hard but I didn’t believe her. Boy was she right.

This is something that I am having help with; learning how to be a person in my own right is not something I am currently good at, even though if you met me you would say, as everyone does, how very self-contained and self-sufficient I am. It’s affecting me more deeply than I had realised.

So I suppose the moral to be learnt from this is for mums-to-be, mums-in-waiting and mums of littlies: yes, by all means devote yourself to your children but don’t forget to devote time to being you, to evolving as an independant being outside of being a partner/spouse/parent. Finding your purpose in life as a unique individual is important to your own fulfillment.

Perhaps I know my purpose really. Maybe I have found it but just haven’t recognised it yet. Hopefuly the threapy will help me discover.

Holiday camp guest antics – when are the camp responsible?

We are in the midst of an adult weekend. 80’s to be exact and usually they are a great bunch, unlike the 90’s lot last weekend which involved streaking naked across the beach (grown men) whilst families enjoyed family time, someone flashing in town and other such behaviour. I felt sorry for the local supermarkets who had a hard time with them.

Yesterday was no better. Usually the 80’s crowd come to have a good time, party well but they support the town, spend a lot of money in the shops and are just a little livelier than normal. These weekends often attract hen and stag dos and I think it was a stag party that caused us some bother yesterday.

My friend is the manager of a charity shop adjacent to my shop. She came running in, a bit shaky, to tell me of a group of 6 guys who had just come into her shop causing havoc. They’d tried on dresses and hats but wouldn’t let the assistant look at the price tag whilst wearing said clothing, without yelping that she was attacking them and someone call the police.

Next minute, one of them wets himself and strips off his kit (which is a pvc outfit I might add) in the middle of the shop. Another one barged through the door that says ‘Private – Staff Only’, out through the back door into our joint delivery area and proceeds to urinate against the back door of my shop! Naturally she came to inform me of this deed.

We have a Radio Link in the town which means participating businesses have a radio connected to ‘comms’ allowing all of us to report this kind of activity and of course any theft. Comms are connected to local beat police and town CCTV who can find and follow any perpetraitors of such activity.

I got straight onto comms, reported the incident and they got straight onto the police and CCTV whereupon the group in question were located and followed through town. At this point, all particiating businesses on the high street were then on the radio reporting where this crowd were. The CCTV came back to say they’d seen the group with a glass display head which I was asked to check with my friend if it had been stolen from her shop. Yes it had.

Eventually the crowd reached the next pub where the display head was taken off them. At this point, the holiday camp security had been alerted who asked if the group should be thrown off site of just given a final warning. The latter was chosen. So imagine, you’ve paid say £400 for accommodation for the weekend (giving you access to all facilities and entertainment on site), then you have to buy food plus your travel down there and it doesn’t make for a cheap weekend.

A final warning means one more misdemeanour and you’re off. If resort security decide you’re leaving, they don’t care what time of day or night it is, how drunk or sobre you are, if you’ve contravened the rules, you are escorted to your accommodation, watched whilst you pack and escorted out the front gate. You are then banned for life. This has been known to happen on a friday not long after arriving. One taxi driver was asked to take someone home to Southampton at 3am because he’d been kicked off site.

The town would not survive without the holiday camp, it’s that simple. They bring in huge revenue to the town from tourists and of course provide a lot of employment. But when should the camp take responsibility for what guests do off campus?  Well they do and they take it quite seriously.

For example: a recent sports even involvng under 16’s teams resulted in some of the kids throwing eggs round town at cars and property. The teams were warned beforehand that any bad behaviour would result in being expelled from the site which did indeed happen.

It’s my contention though that whilst I applaud the camps’ stance, what their guests do off campus is not directly their responsibility. In the case of this weekend, they are grown adults (supposedly!) who should take responsibility for their own actions. Legally, pubs are not supposed to serve people who are beyond drunk but I guess if you’re still upright, talking and moving without assistance, you aren’t beyond drunk.

Should the pubs refuse them service, especially when they have caused aggro in town beforehand? Should the town take a stronger stance as a community and ban them from the town? I know that’s quite extreme but there are families here with young children, both residents and holidaymakers, and none of them (or anyone else for that matter) needs to witness that kind of behaviour whilst going about their daily business.

My friend and her staff were a little shaken up for quite a while. They are not on the radiolink but after yesterday, I’ve advised her to press her boss about participating because she could have called for immediate assistance from police via comms, I would have heard her pleas for help and could have gone next door for support.

All the fun of a seaside town eh?


Investment Secured – we live to fight another day

The phone call we have all been waiting extremely anxiously for arrived just after midday friday: the company have secured investment and so our jobs are safe. For now.

Mind you, that phone call was preceeded by another to inform us they could not afford to pay the four weekly staff more than a certain percentage of their wages this week!  And that after assurances from our boss monday that this would most definitely not be a problem.

I’m not sure I can articulate accurately how I feel but let’s try.

The lies that have been fed us this year are astounding. They have rolled off the tongues of senior management like honey. Do they think that we haven’t noticed? That’s of course when they have actually said something. Most of the time we have been left in the dark with no true contact from our board of directors.

This lack of leadership leaves you wondering how on earth they got the job in the first place. Why don’t executives have to pass compulsory leadership training before stepping over the threshold of the boardroom?

And how do they think we feel being the constant bearers of bad news to our staff? It does not make for a happy working environment I can tell you. Alongside all this, all stores have been having to condense their shops down to smaller and smaller sales areas, in the vain hope that customers don’t notice the complete lack of stock.

It is utterly demoralising to arrive at work every morning, to see a great gaping space on the shop floor where fixtures use to be bulging with clothing and shelves packed high with homewares.

If I had had a £1 for every customer that asked “you aren’t closing are you?” in the last two weeks, I could have taken the month off work and enjoyed the free time, without all the stress.

Even that has been demoralising because people are essentially very selfish: “oh no, where will I shop?” has been the common cry. No thought to gosh what are you lovely people going to do for work if you lose your jobs.

Two of my staff have already left, a third is on her way and I strongly expect a fourth to follow fairly soon. That leaves me only 3 staff plus me to run the shop. Not that there is much to do at the moment for sure, except spread the already sparse goods out a little further so it doesn’t look so empty.

One might think that I would receive the news of this investment with excitement. I don’t. In my humble opinion this is merely a sticking plaster. I strongly suspect that in January we will reach groundhog day, as the income from brick and mortar retail dries up in the first quarter of the year. It will be back to robbing Peter to pay Paul.

I’ve never worked for a company like this. In the few short months I have been manager I’ve had to deal with High Court Enforcement Officers begin to list my stock as the rent hadn’t been paid (again), tell my staff repeatedly that they won’t be paid in full or on time, not be paid in full or on time myself more than anyone should be,  listen to the misinformation from HO on a weekly basis including categorical denials of something that was true.

To say they treat their staff appallingly is an understatement.

So tomorrow I shall be giving my CV a workout and a polish. At least this investment means I don’t have to rush around looking for any job to pay the bills, I can take my time to find one where we are mutually suited.

Election Day – a critical juncture in UK politics

I haven’t voted for years, simply because I haven’t been on the electoral roll so not visible enough to get a voting card. That’s what comes from living under the radar so to speak. But this one is important and so I decided to poke my head out of the shadows and have my say.

The British public voted for Brexit and that is probably the most key point in any manifesto this election. Leaving the EU must be done right with every benefit for the UK signed sealed and delivered. There are of course many other very important issues of the day, most notably the security of our country, particularly in view of the recent atrocities in Manchester and London.

So which party does one one vote for?

None are perfect. None will fulfill every promise it professes in their manifesto. It’s a case of reading between the lines whilst also looking at who has the most experience on the home stage as well as the world stage, who will do the best by everybody as much as is possible and who will serve their own interests the least.

The leaders of each party must also be carefully scrutinised. We don’t get to choose who leads each party, the parties themselves choose their leaders and I think most people in the UK would agree Theresa May is dreadful. Jeremy Corbyn is worse. He might speak much that the public agree with but he doesn’t have the experience to lead a country let alone unify his own party.

Whoever the country chooses, and one hopes they will choose wisely, we are stuck with for 5 years. A lot of damage could be done in that time as history has shown us very clearly.

So my fellow Brits, think very carefully before you vote.  I hope everyone has cogitated deeply on the meaning behind the rhetoric that has been spouted during campaigning and chooses wisely for the future of our country.



When your staff let you down

In every management role there are one or two aspects that are less favoured. For me it is having to have those difficult conversations with staff members. It’s not something I garner any pleasure from at all and one where I am as uncomfortable as they are during the interview. But it it has to be done and so far, in my current job, I have had to do more than once.

Next week it will happen again.

I try to be as accommodating as I can when doing rotas; if anyone has a specific day they cannot come in to work for personal reasons –  looking after grandchildren, attending hospital appointments for example – then I will try to put them on a different day.

Rotas are done 4 weeks in advance. It is each team members responsibility to check the rota to ensure I haven’t changed it (although I always endeavour to let them know I have if it’s at short notice) or to just remind themselves when they are next working. What I don’t appreciate is texts late evening on my day off asking what time they’re in the following day!

There are rules to how any team member must inform me that they will be unable to attend work, as there are within any company. It isn’t complicated – you ring me at the shop or at home if you are supposed to be in first thing – so I can at least try to get someone to cover for you. A phone call from a spouse, partner, sibling, friend, neighbour, parent or flatmate is unacceptable unless you are so incapacitated (ie voice lost completely or have been in an accident and are in hospital) that you cannot call personally.

Therefore when someone’s mum calls me to say their child will not be able to work I am not happy. Even less so when there is no valid reason the team member cannot call me themselves. It isn’t just contravening company rules that rankles, it is showing disrespect to me and to fellow team members. I only have a very small team which leaves me few people I can call upon to stand in at short notice.

However, there is another aspect to this that has to be considered: a future reference. As managers we are required to keep file notes on our staff as a record of mistakes (to see if there is a consistency to the mistake and whether re-training is required), inappropriate behaviour, contravention of (a quite relaxed) dress code and unauthorised absences from work.  When a team member leaves, these notes are fowarded to HR who will take them into consideration when giving a reference should one be required.

So today, on my day off, whilst enjoying some mother-daughter time, I had to phone HR, phone my boss and then call into work to speak to my asst manager, all regarding this latest episode of being let down. Not what you want to be doing in your limited free time.