Fight or flight

This post would’ve been very different had I written it this morning. It’s amazing the difference a day can make to your outlook and positivity.

I told you about my promotion back in September in what I seem to remember was a somewhat upbeat post. Since then I’ve been plugging away, learning my trade, climbing the steepest learning curve I’ve ever been on and, to be frank, it’s flipping hard!

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely made the right choice in pursuing the next step in my career. I was bored, getting highly complacent, far too comfortable and was a couple of droplets of swamp water away from complete stagnation. I did the right thing, but I have days when I doubt myself.

It’s very similar to being single. When I was single I’d have a massive high when I got a message from an attractive member of the opposite sex on Dating Direct, almost immediately followed by a crash back down to earth when he turned out to be a racist/psychopath/raving lunatic/sexist pig/total dingbat (delete as appropriate). That’s what learning to be an Account Manager is like, as is scientifically demonstrated above using empirical, soundly reasoned data (definitely not just nice round numbers plucked from the air to illustrate my point!)

I have days when things are going well, I’ve snuck a couple of inches up that learning curve and my confidence is flying with the birds and I drive home singing along to the Mamma Mia: Here we go again soundtrack at the top of my voice and then, bam! Something happens the next day, I realise I’ve not understood a nuance, or I’m asked to do something I completely don’t understand, or I get an email telling me I’m being unreasonable and should know better and down I crash, bringing my confidence level to ground zero.

This is when I have to overcome the woe is me feeling, regroup, sleep on it, decide what to do about it, and come back fighting. I’m not very good at the flight option, low as my confidence may get, once I’ve beaten myself up for a while, the real me struggles through and I forge on. I may not possess all the positive qualities that I’d like, but I am determined and I am resilient and once I have started on a path, I want to reach my destination, even if it means going round the wrekin to get there. The aim is to get to the green line on the scientific chart. Slightly wobbly to negate complete arrogance, but essentially brimming with confidence.

I won an award at work several years ago. I have to admit that I was only half listening to the presentation speech because it didn’t occur to me that the award might be coming my way, but one word that I did hear used to describe me has stuck with me ever since – stoic. The guy who gave this compliment is certainly not free and easy with his praise which, when it comes, makes it all the more sweet.

Yep, that’s me! I don’t profess to have endured any real hardship in the traditional sense of the word, but yes, I’ve had knock backs at work but I haven’t given up, I haven’t become bitter, I’ve used the ensuing feelings to fuel my way and prove my worth.

The same person also said to me more recently that I’m very good with people and that our customers appreciate that. This was a higher compliment to me than I think it was intended to be. I am not a natural people person. At all! I’ve had to work really hard to learn the skill. Earlier this week I took a return flight to Frankfurt and both ways I had a window seat and nobody immediately next to me. My heart gave a little jump for joy when I heard the captain announce ‘boarding complete, cabin crew prepare for departure’ and realised there were no more potential headspace invaders heading down the aisle in my direction. Excellent, nobody to studiously ignore! Blissful alone time to watch episodes of the Crown uninterrupted by mindless, unnecessary chatter. I’ve watched other people making small talk and they seem to thrive on it. Not me, I’m the classic introvert and I need time alone when I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not.

I’m very lucky to have had excellent support through my life. I’m surrounded by people who have my back, but I wish I could step out of myself and into one of them sometimes to see how they see me. They seem to be under the impression that I could rule the world if I put my mind to it whereas I’m only too aware of my limitations. I’m perfectly capable of ruling my own world, but no woman is an island, and my world can’t exist independently of other worlds which I can’t rule.

I’ve never thought of myself as someone with low confidence, but I realise now that that’s because I’ve never found anything particularly difficult so I’ve never had reason to doubt myself. Surely everyone’s confident about things they’re good at? I’ve never really been out of my comfort zone until now. I sailed through school floating somewhere in the middle where no one really bothers you, college was two years of fun with a bit of work thrown in for good measure and then uni was hard work but still firmly within my comfort zone because fifteen years of education had given me the tools to manage pretty much any educational setting. After that I faffed around with a couple of simple jobs until I ended up with the company I’m still with now, where I continued to faff around until I realised I was pushing forty and that life wasn’t going to give me a leg up, I needed to apply myself. I needed to be proactive. This again isn’t a natural trait of mine. Towards the beginning of my time with my current employer I was made aware that someone had described me as not very proactive – I can’t remember who told me, but I’ve always remembered who said it, and it pops into my head every time I bump into him in the kitchen. I guess home truths cut deeper.

Anyhoo, onwards and upwards. Today was an up on the chart after yesterday was a down. I will continue skywards on my mahoosive learning curve. I will attempt to bolster, no, I WILL bolster my confidence, on the down days I will remember the buzz of the up days, I will be strong and I will do this. I feel like I should burst into a Gloria Gaynor song, but hubby’s asleep next to me so I’ll refrain! As Seven of Nine would say resistance is futile!

Decluttering for my sanity

I had a really uneasy feeling when we got home from our trip to Malta.

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(I mentioned it, so I’m showing it!)

Anyway, uneasy, as if I’d forgotten to pay a bill, or missed a really important meeting, but I hadn’t forgotten anything so I couldn’t work out why I felt that way, or more importantly, how to stop it.

I still don’t know for certain what the problem was, but I think it’s to do with work. I was in my previous role for sixteen years so to say I was in my comfort zone is somewhat of an understatement. I could pick it up after a holiday without skipping a beat, and I could let myself linger in the holiday blues without it affecting my performance, but things are different now. I now have a lot more autonomy and a lot more responsibility and I can’t rest on my laurels. I’m still somewhere near the bottom of a steep learning curve, and I guess, when I’m away from it, subconsciously my brain worries about my return in case I’m revealed as an imposter Account Manager!

I’m back in the game now and had a good week, but my head was feeling cluttered. My Dad’s good friend has a saying which perfectly illustrates this feeling. She says that her shelves are full. Well, my shelves were bowing under the weight this week so I took action! I decluttered!

Yesterday I worked from home and I spent some time organising my email. I had a couple of furry helpers.

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I created sub folders and filed loads of emails away, I read all the unread items in my inbox and took any action required, and I cleared my deleted mails down. I get lots of emails relevant to my old role that I no longer need and lots of mails that just say ‘thanks’ or ‘ok’ that I preview in the reading pane and then delete without opening. This had led to a big blue ‘643’ next to the deleted folder which was just adding to the weight on my shelves. It was like those little blue dots you get under apps that you’ve updated – I can’t leave those there either, they just bother me. I went through and deleted my unread deleted.

After work I continued the decluttering. I was on a roll, and with every item of clothing I added to the charity shop bag and every piece of rubbish I put in the bin I felt lighter. I now have a black bag of clothes, shoes and bags and two piles of books to go to the charity shop and we took an entire boot full of rubbish to the tip.

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I went through pretty much every cupboard and drawer in the house and cleaned out all of our belongings which were surplus to requirements. I was pretty ruthless – I felt the need to be.

I have an empty washing basket, a non existent ironing pile, a rearranged kitchen which looks much neater and I’ve finally hung up the quilt that my Mum made us for Christmas.

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Isn’t it amazing!

And I have space on my bookcase for my patiently waiting Little Boxes of Crochet.

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Speaking of crochet, I have finished the baby blanket that I’ve been working on for my new baby niece, Emmeline, and just in the nick of time because we’re meeting her for the first time tomorrow afternoon.

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I’m taking a chance that the recipient’s parents will be too busy taking care of their new bundle of joy to read this before tomorrow afternoon. This is one more thing ticked off my to do list.

As well as work, my head is full of half-evolved ideas of garden projects so I popped out there (after four thirty pm and it was still light – whoop) to try and evolve my plans so I can put them into action and cross them off my list – more on that later – and while I was out there I had to have a look at my wakening plants.

My daffs are yawning and stretching and are moments away from waking up and showing us their beautiful flowers, and, remember I couldn’t remember what I’d planted in front of the daffs? Well look! They’re crocuses! Isn’t nature clever?

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My rose ‘Hot Chocolate’ is happily growing some new leaves …

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… and the bluebells continue to push up round the edges of our gravelled bistro.

Spring is most definitely springing and it makes me happy. Can’t wait to get out there and continue with the grand master plan!

2018 Review in Pictures

I should’ve probably written this post on 1st January, but I was busy finishing off my greenhouse and since then I’ve been back at work and feeling somewhat tired. It’s amazing how quickly you get out of the habit of getting up early and doing proper adult things. Every January when I go back to work I struggle to keep my head above water because I’m so tired and suffering from the January blues. I always manage though, and soon we’ll be through January. February’s not much better, in my humble opinion, but its saving grace is that it’s closer to Spring and you can finally see that the days are getting longer. The end of Winter is in sight!

I downloaded the top nine app which makes you a collage of your nine most liked photos on Instagram.

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I like all these photos (as, apparently do the people who follow me on Instagram) but I didn’t feel that it represented my year as I remember it. Of course, I only started my blog and the accompanying Instagram account (greengirlgardener for anyone who’d like to follow me) in July so it’s not representative of the whole year, but there’s not one gardening photo on there and that was a massive part of my 2018. I also realise that I need to be careful not to use a photo I’ve already posted as my featured blog picture because that’s how I’ve ended up with the same photo twice. 

Anyway, I thought I’d look back on my year and try to select my personal favourite pictures, and maybe you’ll find them interesting.

We managed to keep our fur babies healthy and happy in 2018 – this really isn’t a chore because they are just so delightful. I couldn’t not include my favourite pics of the gorgeous twosome from this past year.

How do I choose my favourite pictures from the garden? Honestly my phone is full of pics of plants and garden paraphernalia! I’ll try to narrow it down.

This is what really sparked my enthusiasm for the garden when we had the jungle chopped down and I could really see what we had to play with!

It inspired me to create our bistro.

I soon added other features to give character to our space.

My wheelbarrow planter.

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My planter which was made by my Dad for my birthday which I love.

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My raised beds ready for growing fruit and veg in the summer.

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More recently my greenhouse which I’m really excited about.

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The garden gave me so much pleasure this year. I can’t possibly show you everything that I planted or managed to nurture, so I’ll try to narrow it down to a few of my favourite photos.

When the cats were kittens it was impossible for me to crochet because they would run off with my yarn, but this year, now that they’re the ripe old age of three, I rediscovered my love for hooking and I also resubscribed to Little Box of Crochet. Here are some of my makes.

I also met Amanda, the owner of Little Box of Crochet at the Grand Sale Event.

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I went on three holidays. Lanzarote at Easter with hubby’s side of the family.

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Sandybrook Country Park near Ashbourne with some of my best and oldest (in time, not age!) friends for May Bank Holiday.

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And Mexico in November with hubby.

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2018 saw the last of my school year turn 40. My birthday is at the beginning of the academic year so I turned 40 in 2017, but my best friend celebrated her milestone birthday in style in 2018. We went to London, saw Les Miserables in the West End and had afternoon tea at the Dorchester.

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I don’t even like tea, but I was in the Dorchester and I was drinking tea whether I liked it or not! I look thin in this photo – might print it out and stick it to the fridge to motivate my New Year diet!

This is really not in chronological order because this happened in February. It’s just in the order that it’s fallng out of my head! We finally knocked our teeny tiny kitchen through to the dining room to create a big kitchen diner. It’s the best thing we’ve done to the house – we no longer fall over each other when we’re trying to cook, and we no longer risk going up in a puff of smoke like we did using our old dodgy cooker!

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Hubby and I went to Thorpe Park with two of my work friends (one of whom made a rollercoaster fwiend – sorry, in joke!) Until I went to Orlando for the first time in 2016 I’d never been to a proper big theme park. I used to go to a local theme park when I was a kid, people can’t believe that I’ve never been to Alton Towers! I loved Thorpe Park. It was so much fun.

My youngest brother got married in August and I gained another sister-in-law. It was an amazing day and really made me appreciate time with family.

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Oh, almost forgot! I got a promotion and became an Account Manager. I’ve tried to embrace my new role and am enjoying the learning process. It’s not always easy, and I’m spending a lot of time outside of my comfort zone, but I’m relishing the challenge and am determined to succeed and prove myself. That reminds me, I must ask for new business cards!

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I think that’s the major events of 2018 covered. So, what’s to come in 2019? If all goes according to plan, then I’ll travel to Orlando and Spain. I’ll return to Sandybrook with the girls. It’s highly likely that I’ll visit the south of Italy with work. I’ll visit the Hippodrome to see Peter Pan and the Alexandra Theatre to see Thriller Live. I’ll pay an extortionate parking fee at the NEC when I visit Gardeners’ World Live with my best friend. There are tentative plans to go to Kew Gardens, do pub quizzes, visit Tallinn and to remedy my not having been to Alton Towers. I’ll take part in my first CAL (crochet-along) with thousands of people around the world when I follow attic24’s sweet pea blanket pattern. I’m planning to decorate the downstairs loo, redo the bathroom and obviously there will be exploits in the garden. I did briefly toy with the idea of a huge PVC igloo on the lawn today when I was daydreaming (and imagining myself to have won the lottery) but I’ll satisfy my gardening dreams by beautifying my greenhouse and growing my own fruit and veg this year.

I hope you all have plans for 2019, whether big or small. Life’s for living!