Tag Archives: work

This Week I am Grateful For #9

Gratitude Series No 9 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Some weeks gratitude is a little bit harder to come by than others. There appears to be no reason for me to feel like this at the moment…and yet….

I’m really pleased to say I’ve been offered a permanent contract at work, which really is wonderful, and is also something I know I am very grateful for. It has just also coincided with a spectacularly busy and changeable period at work, which has left me on the back foot, big time.

As a teacher, you’re constantly assessing. Assessing your students’ understanding, their work, your displays, your colleagues’ work and displays, your class’s behaviour. You assess so much, and so frequently that it’s virtually impossible to not be constantly comparing yourself.

And I currently am in a ‘compare thyself’ frame of mind, and frankly, I feel I’m coming up a bit short.

When I was in Primary school, my Mum, for one reason or another, was given a silver necklace with a silver circle pendant. Engraved on it was the saying ‘This too shall pass’.

“Even the good stuff, Mum? But what if you don’t want it to pass?”

Even the good stuff passes, it seems.  But if the good stuff passes, then so does the bad. So I can take comfort in knowing that a spell of time at work where I’m not particularly enjoying myself will pass. And for that, I am very grateful indeed.

When You Feel Anxious But You’re Not an Anxious Person

BREATHE Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The shocking thing about anxiety is the strength with which one believes to be the only person in the world who could be foolish enough to feel this way. I’m coming out the other side of five weeks filled with a new job, renovations, illness, stress and teenagers. So many teenagers.

There have been evenings where I’ve come home from work and cried on the sofa. There have been days where my students have emailed me to tell me how much they are enjoying my lessons. It seems some clouds do have a semi-precious metal lining. I’ve been a ***bit up and down.

Three am is not a time I am happy to see as a rule, but who am I to decide what time a wave of anxiety should hit? Interrupted sleep is a total pig.

In times of stress, where you kind of feel the most stressful thing is that you don’t think you’re coping with stress very well at all, it’s helpful, nay necessary to have a few mantras under your belt. Here are some that have been playing on repeat recently:

Breathe in, breathe out.

It’s not perfect, but it will do. <——THIS

I won’t always feel the same way I do now.

I’m not the only person who feels like this.

There’s a bottle of wine in the fridge. 

Ah yes, the blessed mantra.

I’m happy to report that I am now feeling *almost* back to my most resilient self. I’ve gotten used to my commute, I know most of my students names and occasionally, I feel like I might not be too bad at this whole career malarky!

How have you guys dealt with stress in the past?

 

***a lot

What Does Success Look Like?

We’ve spent part of this semester at university talking about assessing our future students, and how the way we assess has an effect on our student’s success. Sharing ‘success criteria’ with our students improves their performance – sounds obvious I know, but it was a bit of an eye opener for me. Knowing what success looks like, and knowing what you need to do to be successful means it’s easier to achieve it. Talk about woah.

It got me thinking, what does success criteria for life look like? I’m not so sure that it still looks the same as it did 20 years ago, hell, even 10 years ago when I was daydreaming about being an adult! When I was 16 I thought success was being an actress on stage, in a slinky frock at awards events. I thought success was having people think you’re great and telling you constantly.

Some people think success is having a few extra zeroes on the right side of their bank balance, and some think it’s having that corner office with the view. Others find themselves out of the workforce in their late 50’s but sleep easy knowing that they raised human beings that they’re proud of.  I know the huge amount of work that all of those types of success require, but I’ve also come to terms with the fact that they’re not the absolute definition of success for me.

What’s my definition? I’ll show you:

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Photo on 11-08-2014 at 2.28 pm

 

 

Good food, a happy home, two lovely cats (formerly an oxymoron), a lover whom I adore and a brand new career ahead of me.

It was a long and winding road to get here, and it sure would have been a weight off my mind if someone had come up to me five years ago and said “Here. Here are the things that will make you happy. Do life like this”. There are times when I wish someone had, but more often I think I wouldn’t have listened, and just thundered on regardless. We value things when we know how hard we worked to get them, and that they came at some sort of cost.

It might not be the done thing to decide that you’re successful at 26 when you’re still in university and not earning a wage. But on this bright, cool Tuesday morning while I am avoiding my last paper due on Friday, I say to hell with it. I’m celebrating the successes I’ve had so far in my life, and looking forward to many more, no matter what shape they take.

Un/Ravelled.

Going Down:

An overwhelming inability to work solidly for more than 10 minutes at a time. Just as I progress into the hardest four weeks in all of my studying life. Thanks brain, it’s so great of you to come to the party like this. You’re also being tremendously helpful with your obsession with iPad games and staying up to 1am consistently. Honestly, what is my problem? Severely need to get my A into G, but this is looking less and less likely to happen. May or may not turn my late-semester stress levels up to 11. JOY.

I have been running (yes, running!) semi-solidly for five weeks now. Long enough that I can see improvement in my runs, but sadly not long enough that the poor, tender skin on the soles of my feet have been able to sufficiently harden up against the blight of the blister.  I am absolutely covered in the damn things, which makes me want to refrain from running to let them heal, which also makes me feel like a total wimp. Dilemma. What to do, oh wise internet? Send me tips etc, for running bliss. Sadly there has been no discernible change in my weight, which is now at an all time comfort-eating high. Ho hum.

My bank balance is at a near-ruinous level once again. No comment.

Going up:

I have had at least three rather delightful conversations with teacher recruiters for the UK, which is an oxymoron if ever I have heard one. I’m feeling decidedly positive about my work prospects, and in fact it seems like my return to my adopted home will in fact happen, despite the general never-ending-assessments feeling that has swept over me regarding uni work.

My first assessment for semester 2 came back with a (totally unexpected) fantastic grade. I am particularly delighted, because I was close to tears about it, practically from the moment we received the task sheet. I don’t, however, hold any high hopes for my latest effort.

I have a JOB INTERVIEW on Thursday evening for a teaching position next year. It all feels a little unreal, but it’s in the diary so I guess I better buck up my ideas and get preparing. Funnily enough I am having no trouble planning things for next year, which probably says something about my state of mind. My mother used to say ‘don’t wish your life away Sam’; rather good advice which I have faithfully ignored for approximately 15 years.

It’s all happening, so it seems, at HSGS Headquarters. But it’s a damn struggle, so many threads to keep track of. How’s life treating you?

One Day A Week

Is what I wanted. One day more a week is probably a little more accurate. One day more a week where I didn’t have to go to my 9-5 job. One day more to pursue my projects. The time had come to ask and I was indiscreetly terrified.

I work in finance (well the bit of finance where you don’t have enough), and it’s a hard job a lot of the time. The other part of the time it’s a fascinating job, with colleagues I get along with. We’ve become a weirdly (dis)functional little family, squabbling one minute and whipping our hair back with laughter the next.

#workselfie

But there it was. A big ol’ full time job where I couldn’t sneak off and write my future novel in between reports. I found myself writing my WOW Magazine copy in my lunch breaks, organising burlesque workshops when I got in from work, and sewing bunting until past 12am for weeks. I loved every minute of it, but surely something had to give before my hair started falling out in vast clumps from the sheer stress of viewing my Google calendar.

In the end, someone asked me for help, and I didn’t have the time to give it. Yet. But I promised I would ask my boss that week for one day more. It was planned. Now for actually doing it…

Professor Google stepped in. Google “how to ask for reduced hours” and you’ll get a multitude of self employment book recommendations available for only three easy instalments of £13.99. So Prof Google got the sack. Onto real people it was, those who had tried and triumphed, as well as those who had tried and failed.

You’ve got to make a business case for them
I heard this over and over, and I think it’s really true. Make it short, make it snappy, tell them how it’s going to benefit them. Don’t say what you’re doing with your one day more, but just say that the time they give you will mean you’re more focussed at work. Which needs to be true, obviously!

Be prepared
Oh yeah. A biggie. Hell, be over prepared. I was so nervous about asking, that I shook! I felt ill, and so I scripted out word for word what I wanted to say. I had clear points, because although 99% of the time I’m a confident communicator, this was the 1% I was not. I knew I’d lose track of my point, because I knew my boss. It had happened before.

Work out the benefits
I went the bullet point route. Benefits to them? Retention of a committed and trained employee. Reduction in wage outlay. Better focussed and less stressed employee.

Benefit to me? One day more a week. The precious gift of time.

What are you prepared to sacrifice?
Because you will have to compromise. I was prepared to lose a day’s wages, and had worked out that I couldn’t afford that right from the beginning (LOL – seriously, I’m going to struggle, but I’m prepared to deal with that just for one day more).

What I also had to give up was the idea of having a Monday or a Friday off. Two of my team members are parents and had reduced hours on Fridays, so it was never going to happen. Turns out the only day my most senior boss could commit to being in the office was a Monday. So….I guess that leaves the three other days of the working week. For me, Wednesdays worked best, as it split up the week a little for me, and it meant I was already in the habit of getting up and out of bed. So no lay-ins for me!

Get your timing right
Six months ago, I wasn’t trained enough. Six months ago we were running around like headless chicken trying to drown in the mountain of work accumulating. Now? Things have settled, I’ve carved out a nice place for myself in the team. 

So I took a deep breath, asked my boss if I could see them for 5 minutes and almost cried as I followed her into the office. We sat down, I went bright red and launched into my spiel. The sentences “I like to think I’m a valued member of the team” and “I’m prepared to be very flexible” were uttered. Stammered, rather. We nodded. I said I didn’t need an answer straight away. She said she didn’t think there would be a problem, and my heart rose into my throat.

Two weeks later, I found myself sitting in coFWD, a local co-working space, during my one day more. Guess what I was doing? I was organising a cabaret, running a personalised bunting business, writing copy and hanging out with my friends.

Love a bit of Seth Godin with my coworking!

I’m so grateful to my work for being up for the change. I’m proud of myself for realising what I needed, and then making it happen.

If you want to ask your work for a reduction in hours, and want to run over anything, please feel free to email me on sam@hellosamgoodbyesamantha.com, and I’ll do my best to help!