Posts Tagged 'Holidays'

Talking yourself into it

blog pic Feb 14Yesterday I noted with some amusement how easily Mr J and I can talk ourselves into something when we really want it. I guess this is true of a lot of people generally; everyone has their weakness, whether that’s swapping your car every year or so, constantly redecorating, or regularly buying the latest tech. For us it’s holidays.

As I got ready for bed I looked back on the day and realised we’d done what we always do when it comes to holidays. And even though I’ve known for ages that it’s something we fall foul of, and I’m very aware of it, the whole thing just makes me smile. I make no effort to change the outcome or break the pattern because, ultimately, I’m getting what I want.

This is how holiday hunting goes in our house. The destinations may change but the format rarely does:

Me: Wouldn’t it be nice to get away for a few days. We haven’t had a holiday in ages.

This is blatantly not true however I conveniently don’t count long weekends or UK breaks as holidays. In reality we probably haven’t been away for three months tops. Probably less.

Mr J: Yes it’s been ages [because I’ve brainwashed him into my way of thinking…] Why don’t we do a city break somewhere?

This is fatal mistake number one. We always start our holiday negotiations with this line but in reality we’ve done the majority of Europe and what’s left we’re probably not that fussed about. I also have a “don’t go anywhere twice” rule on account of still having so much of the world to see before I die so, stubbornly, can very rarely be convinced to revisit a place.

So now the Internet search starts…

Me: There’s nowhere I want to go in Europe. The only possible options are the Italian lakes or [insert somewhere incredibly obscure and eastern European which is probably only accessible by a flight, two buses and a donkey ride here].

Again, this is a preposterous claim. Though I have been lucky enough to visit many countries I have not been to all 50 countries in Europe and there is certainly more than one decent destination in most countries too…

Mr J: Well the lakes would be nice. Look, we can go quite cheaply for 3 nights. It’s under budget.

Me: Ohhh but look at the flight times. We’d have virtually no time there [the fact it’s a short city break being completely ignored…] and would spend so much time travelling that we wouldn’t get a chance to relax at all.

Mr J: You’re right. How about this 3 night mini cruise instead? We can just relax and be waited on. It’s twice the price but will be worth it.

Me: That’s a great choice but the dates aren’t quite right. How about this five night one instead? It’s longer than we planned but a complete bargain.

Fatal mistake number two: being sucked in by a bargain. By now the budget is blown.

Mr J: My only issue with that is that it will be cold. We should go somewhere warm.

Temperature being completely irrelevant when the first mini cruise was suggested just moments prior…

Me: So where is hot this time of year? The Canaries will be freezing [lie], as will Turkey [lie also]. How about Africa or the Middle East…?

Mr J: Yeah they would be good for sun. But we’ll have to go for a week if we’re going that far. No point going for less with all that travelling.

All that additional couple of hours… More Internet research being done. Budget now disregarded altogether.

Mr J: I dunno. A week in the sun would be great but I don’t fancy any of the destinations in those regions [Africa being tiny and all…]. What about Florida or the Caribbean?

Me: Ohhh YES! That would be awesome. But we probably need to go for nearer two weeks if we’re going that far.

Mr J: Well that’s ok. We should do it properly. And if we’re going to do it properly we should stay somewhere really nice too. Here’s the perfect thing – let’s book it!

Me: I love it! Book it straight away so we don’t miss out!

And lo! In the space of a couple of hours we’ve gone from a £300pp city break in Europe to a £2000pp fortnight holiday in somewhere like the Americas. Just like that! And only at the expense of delaying the kitchen refurbishment for another few months, too!

We have the power to talk ourselves into many things but we tend to do it selectively. Rather than aiming high in everyday life we talk ourselves down, tell ourselves that it isn’t possible, and don’t make that extra effort. Problem solving is not always easy, but where there’s a will there’s a way and, while there may need to be some sacrifices or give and take along the way, that’s surely a small price to pay for something you really want. When you take things one step at a time you don’t notice the extent of the change or what you’ve achieved until you can look back on what you’ve done and see how great the overall impact of that step change really was. Other people can have an impact on our success as well – a negative comment or conflicting opinion can be really demotivating, even where it was well meant. But having someone to coax you along is incredibly powerful and that, combined with the right attitude, can really lift the ceiling on your aspirations, whatever they may be.

It’s quite remarkable what we’re capable of talking ourselves into with enough motivation. But don’t worry ladies and gents! I’ve been to this country before so it doesn’t really count as a holiday. We’ll have our “real” holiday later in the year and will splash out properly on something then. This is just a mini break after all……… 😉

About a Boy

I know, I know… I haven’t blogged for ages. I’m debating taking it up again but we shall see. In the meantime, here’s a little something Christmas related 🙂


I think most everyone has at least one year in their lives that stands out as being incredibly difficult from start to finish. My year was 2011. It was a year of loss, job woes and a whole raft of health concerns (mine and others) that left a black cloud hanging over me pretty much from start to finish.

One of the most upsetting features of the year was the death of my grandmother. Many people don’t understand my level of devastation from losing her but my grandma lived with us for 20 years of my life so it was like losing a member of my immediate family. I didn’t realise until a while after she’d gone just to what extent she’d left a hole in my life. I took to calling it my “Grandma shaped hole” and it represented all the time I’d have otherwise spent with her – talking on the phone every week, playing board games, taking her shopping (she was wheelchair bound in later years), and just generally spending time with her.

When you enjoy doing something you don’t notice the amount of time it takes up in your life, and when that time suddenly frees up it can be quite astonishing. I decided I wanted to do something else now she was gone. Something to fill the Grandma shaped hole; another way to spend my time with someone who could do with a little extra love and company in their life. My initial thought was to other old folk. There are so many of them alone with so little company and comfort and I was quite used to their needs. But my grandparents are irreplaceable and after all the recent losses I didn’t feel emotionally strong enough to put myself in a position where I might lose someone I came to love yet again. And when I spoke to a local charity about the level of commitment they asked for I was disappointed at their lack of flexibility, something which was an important factor for a full time worker with a big commute and irregular hours. So while I still believe it was the right decision for me at the time, I decided I couldn’t go the old folk route, but in all honesty I’m a little ashamed of myself for it. I don’t have any children of my own and there’s a very good chance I’ll end up as one of those lovely but lonely people one day, and I’d like to think that someone would do the same for me. I hope in a few years I find enough strength to re-evaluate my choice and walk that path.

So next on the hit list was animals. My husband was the first to try and talk me out of this option. Knowing my weakness for any animal in need of some love he had visions of me turning into a Dr Dolittle, bringing home all sorts of random and raggedy animals, or getting too attached and being upset when they were homed (or worse…). A friend of ours volunteers in a shelter and she told me how hard it was plus, yet again, it meant a very rigid commitment. So another choice off the table.

I had originally omitted children from my research because, frankly, I don’t know an awful lot about them. At the time not many of my friends had them (this has since changed – I think 95% of everyone I know on Facebook has had a baby in the last couple of years – something which throws up its own separate challenges) and I thought that, of all the options, it would probably require the most commitment. But I decided to research it nonetheless, particularly when, through work, I met an inspiring man from a charity called Norwood and one of the children they supported. My research brought me to several organisations, one called NYAS, who were looking for Independent Visitors (IVs) and who I ultimately decided to go with. IVs are a bit like the US big brother programme I suppose. You are matched with a child in the care system and simply spend time with them and act as a good, stable influence on their lives. Unlike most kinds of volunteering, working with children requires an epic amount of training and checks. It took the better part of 8 months to be trained and cleared to work as an IV. Eventually though, I was matched with a boy.

For obvious reasons I can’t tell you much about The Boy. But I can tell you he’s a fantastic character who I love spending time with. He’s done nothing to deserve being where he is today; his situation is entirely a consequence of other people’s actions and his life is not always an easy one. In the six or so months since I met him he’s been moved homes, moved schools twice, had a new key worker, had a new social worker… You name it. NOTHING stays the same in these children’s lives.

So my blog post today is about a boy. It’s about a boy who showed me that, for some children, Christmas can be a challenging and sometimes sad time. It’s about a boy who has very little stability in his life and yet still manages to bounce back every time and make do with the situation. He inspires me constantly and has a truly profound and positive impact on my life.

Christmas is a wonderful, happy time for most people, but not for everyone. So my cheesy Christmas wish is that you spare a thought for those who won’t be laughing and fighting round the dinner table this year, but who are unable to spend it with their families, who are homeless, who are alone, who are giving their time to others, or who are unwell and having a really tough time of it.

And if you are able to do more than spare a thought then please also think about sparing some of your time. My commitment is 4hrs a month plus the odd text message and phone call. It’s tiny in terms of time (and incredibly flexible) but big in terms of impact. And if you can’t do something regularly then help at a Christmas shelter or even just ring up that great aunt who’s on her own and invite her round for dinner. Your time is so very much more valuable than your money and, while money will of course help any charity, the rewards you reap from giving your time are ten fold and the impact so much greater.

I hope your 2013 has not been my 2011. For some of you it will have been and for some of you it won’t have been the first awful year you’ve made it through either. There is always so much to be grateful for though, so however your year has been I hope your Christmas is a happy one and wish you all the best for the new year.

Merry Christmas!


Social Media Holiday?

So my sister flew off to China the other week. We’re not really sure if/when she’ll be back as she hopes to stay a couple years and lots can happen in that time! (I’m thinking rich Chinese husbands here…)

China’s a beautiful country: I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a couple of times and it’s a truly amazing place so I can totally see the attraction. But China is also a bit of a black hole in terms of the internet and social media: No Facebook; no YouTube; no Wikipedia; sometimes access to blogs and Twitter, depending on the mood of the powers that be… To me, that makes it heaven on earth and hell on earth all at the same time! On one hand a beautiful, developing country steeped with a rich and fascinating history; and on the other hand lots of stuff I love banned

So my sister’s relocation had already got me thinking, but then I caught up with a friend last week too, and he got me thinking about it even more! He has just returned back from a self-imposed three month social media break. I was surprised – he seems to have survived unscathed (though it’s plausible he’s covering some deeper wounds…!) and all the better for it! So with my sister, my friend, China, and lots of recent talk on Twitter about social media stalking, I can’t help but wonder whether we shouldn’t all take a break from time to time. Take a chance to re-connect with the people and world around us! And  maybe it shouldn’t just be a social media holiday either – maybe it should be a break from technology in general. Smart phones, netbooks and laptops make everyone overly accessible these days. When do we really and truly turn off? I imagine some people do… People with more self-discipline than me… Maybe people with more money to burn or more commitments to keep… 

But I have no wish to stop my social media activity altogether. A lot of people don’t understand it (Mr J included) but it adds another dimension to my professional/personal development, my work life and my social life. When I started out it was more about networking, but as I’ve come to meet more and more people, and learn more and more new things, it’s benefitted me a lot on a work level too. We’ve had job opportunities, the chance to market ourselves more (for free, I might add!) plus I’ve learned so much about business, marketing, recruitment, and so on, and (I think) I’m able to bring a lot more to the table professionally as a result.

Though I personally think there’s a big future in social media, I know it’s not for everyone – the lines between my work life and personal life have never been so blurred as they are now. It’s a grey area made up of many different shades. And not just because of the relationships I’ve forged but also through the 24/7 access that it engenders: Be it helping a client with something on Twitter at 7am; emailing a student on the weekend; or responding to an amusing comment from a contact during work hours. Social media is such a blend of work and personal that I don’t really switch off from anything at all any more, but I’m kinda OK with that.

But social media is an integral part of my life and turning off from it would be difficult. Mr J and I naturally plan to holiday in China at some point during my sister’s stay, but it won’t just be a tourist holiday for me; it’ll be a social media holiday too! But maybe it’ll do me good. Maybe I need one. In fact, maybe we all do from time to time…

To keep your brain active over the holidays…

… here’s a little riddle for you! I expect you’ve seen it before – Einstein supposedly wrote it in the late 1800’s. He said that 98% of the world population would not be able to solve it. Well maybe that was true in the 1800’s but these days I think the percentage would be substantially lower! If you use a table to work it out you’ll probably be done in about ten minutes…

I love the Christmas holidays: Nearly two weeks of unadulterated enjoyment! But it’s not good for my brain. So have a go at Einstein’s Riddle and give your brain a bit of a mid-holidays boost! 🙂

  • In a street there are five houses, painted five different colors.
  • In each house lives a person of different nationality.
  • Each homeowner drinks a different kind of beverage, smokes a different brand of cigar and keeps a different type of pet.

The question is: Who owns the fish?

This is what we know…

  1. The British man lives in a red house.
  2. The Swedish man keeps dogs as pets.
  3. The Danish man drinks tea.
  4. The Green house is next to, and on the left of the White house.
  5. The owner of the Green house drinks coffee.
  6. The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
  7. The owner of the Yellow house smokes Dunhill.
  8. The man living in the center house drinks milk.
  9. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
  10. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
  11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
  12. The man who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.
  13. The German smokes Prince.
  14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
  15. The Blends smoker lives next to the one who drinks water.

No cheating ok – this is for your own good! 🙂

HELP! What do you do with your blog over Christmas?

So first of all I’d like to take this opportunity to say MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours! I hope you enjoy the holidays, stay safe, and get to spend lots of time with your family and friends!

I’m still super-new to all this, so this is my first Christmas as a blogger! But I find myself in a bit of a quandary: What are you meant to do with your blog over the holidays?

I’ve broken up from work now until 4th January and, while I’ll no doubt be tweeting my way through the holidays, I imagine my tweets will be about rather more inane things than usual (if that’s at all possible!) and a lot more sporadic. So what’s standard protocol amongst bloggers and what do YOU do?

As far as I can see I have three options:

  1. Leave it alone for a fortnight and begin again as normal in the new year
  2. Post as normal and to my usual schedule
  3. Post some sporadic festive stuff as and when I’m inspired

I don’t even know whether anyone will read my posts over the holidays – after all, it’s a time for family, friends and celebrating.

So what do you think? All ideas are welcome!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 46 other followers

About Me

Over ten years’ recruitment, employability, HR and sales experience in both the private and public sectors. I've worked in construction recruitment, FMCG headhunting, and in higher education on the employability agenda.

Click on my picture for more information.

My Tweets

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.