Charity begins at homeless…

So here it nearly is, the time of year I dread humongously! Christmas! It seems people can’t wait for well… I dunno what it is that’s so great, I just never really saw much point. When I was young, up until my teenage years when I moved away and went to college, Christmas was a big thing in my family, and local community. I was in several bands and orchestras so was constantly busy, the biggest part being a brass band I played in where we played right up until about midnight on Christmas Eve and quite often played for the elderly on Christmas Day. For me that was what it was about, cheering people up, helping the lonely through winter.

Once I moved away to live my own adult life, those ties sadly fell away and I never found the same thing in my new life, although the local pub where I worked came close, again it was a community thing. However, being so far from family actually meant that Christmas became pressure. The pressure would start about September time and get worse and worse until I would often try to avoid the whole thing. Christmas didn’t make me happy, it was about playing along and pretending to keep my mum in particular happy and it all felt so fake. I would have been quite happy to work on Christmas Day.

Whilst it’s sort of better now the pressure still comes, it broke me a little the other week. I hadn’t made arrangements for my daughter at that point and the ties of guilt with the far away family began to tighten as everyone made their demands for the days I should make my presence, minus dogs, because even though they are my family, they’re not accepted elsewhere because they’re dogs and they have paws and hair. Yes so I not only have to travel a round trip of 400 miles, I also have to find a dog sitter… as you can imagine that’s never cheap. Then there’s the couple of days of keeping my mouth shut and smiling till my face aches. I often feel like it’s really my daughter they actually want to see and not me, I’m the sour witch that doesn’t play along and spoils the fun. I basically feel like an accessory, a Christmas decoration, I’m there to prove that the family is together and feel a little sick at the “Oh isn’t it lovely to have you all together” comments like we’re some sort of collectable dolls that are oh so rare!

Christmas for me is a time of extreme stress, where the pressure to be happy, to be in the right house for the right people doing the right thing, not being awkward with my alternative beliefs sometimes gets a little bit too much!

This year I really just want to rest, I actually want to go and help people who have nothing, although I’m struggling to find a place that willingly takes volunteers without signing up to a day a week, a cant do that when I have a full time job but would willingly go and give up a day off to help. So I might make some sandwiches and packed lunches and take a walk on Christmas Day, I’ll hand them out to whoever I find and hope they find a place to sleep. I’m very much done with the overspending, the pressure to buy stuff people don’t want or need. Nights out are fun in the summer but in this freezing weather I feel terrible for the people who have nowhere to go. I have no idea how they survive, it makes me cry most days when I see the guy down by the station who’s there it’s his dog, his sleeping bag and nothing else in the world. I wonder what kind of world we live in where we begrudgingly spend money on crap for people we hardly see for them to put in their loft, or give to charity and yet it’s frowned upon to show up with nothing and say I made a donation to the homeless on your behalf instead… if charity begins at home, then define Home for the homeless, surely if we spent less time looking for the things to fill the void of our nothingless, ever obsessive need to own shit and saw that we have enough and we could share, the world could be a much more equal place…

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Dream Appology

It’s funny how you get dreams you remember and the ones you don’t, then the ones so vivid that they play on your mind. I think last night I got a little bit of extra closure in one of my more vivid ones. It started with a conversation with my daughter’s dad in the dream. Prior to going to sleep I’d been reflecting on the past a little, some things that had happened that had a big effect and realised that I was actually a lot stronger as a result of some of those things. Okay at the time of the split I didn’t feel that way, but building myself back up and getting my life back on track I’ve built so much strength that it’s rare I fold to the pressures of every day life, or crumble when a tragedy happens. So perhaps the tough love I experienced in some way helped, I really am able to self sooth and pick myself up at the absolute worst of times.

So the dream, we were talking and I got the apology that I will never hear, and then he told me I was the strongest woman he knows. It was just before I woke and probably why I remember it, but it meant something and gave me something to heal a little bit more of the wounds of the past.

Dreams are a funny thing, I know that I have had simultaneous dreams with people I’m close to. I’ve had dreams that have turned out to tell me of future events. I’d had a distressing one just before ‘the one’ and I split about his business partner screwing him over and his studio being in trouble. Low and behold a couple of weeks after we split his studio got broken into and his business partner had some involvement.

So these dreams I get, what do they mean? Perhaps he had sent that message, the words he will never utter for real because there are things that happened that shouldn’t have. Nights worrying why he hadn’t come home, or the lack of communication or anger projected at me over things I simply had no involvement in. Or perhaps it’s my mind’s way of telling me it’s time to let go of these final few things and that I can move on.

Today’s astrology tells me it is a day of closure on the past and I think that’s what I got. Whether it was all in my mind or something sent through a connection that’s still slightly there, it has done that for me. The good thing is I’m not really worried where the source is, I’m not worried whether he’s actually sorry or whether he thinks I’m strong, because I know in my own mind that I’m strong and it doesn’t reflect on me if he’s sorry or not. Perhaps that’s sometimes the actual way to closure, when you learn that the actions of another were beyond your control, and therefore sorry isn’t relevant anymore. And when you know the strength of your own mind, what others think doesn’t matter either. Today I had slightly less worries, a bit of a happier heart. ‘Long Lost’ continues to be very sweet over text while he’s miles away. I connect with him a lot in my dreams, when I decided it was time to find the right person about a month ago I started to focus on finding him and being grateful to the universe for bringing us together. I started to dream of someone with his height, his hair, his eyes but he was blurry. It didn’t take long for this guy to get into contact after that and we’ve been connected ever since.

The mind is a powerful thing and if you can switch it towards focusing on what you want and being grateful for recovering it you normally get your heart’s desire. So perhaps my dream apology was the thing that I needed to break the final tie to the past that I didn’t know was still lingering…

Alone at Christmas

So this year I’m preparing myself for being alone again on Christmas Day. It’s not the first year and last time I kinda coped okay, although, my daughter was back with me by the evening. This year she’ll be back with me on Boxing Day, so it’ll perhaps feel a little bit strange. Her dad wants to have her with him and that’s understandable, he’s just got married and wants his family unit together, but I think they often forget that whilst he found someone before he jumped, I was left alone and still am, mainly by choice now, circumstances have not yet put before me anyone I want to share my life with… Long Lost is someone we’ll have to consider but it’s too early to be jumping on in there.

So with a day of nothing to do, everywhere will be shut, family will be phoning to say Merry Christmas and it will feel hollow. It’s not that I’m even a major Christmas fan, it’s more the pressure from everyone so it seems to be jolly, drink too much and then of course the ramming down the throat of Christmas on every TV channel because it’s Christmas Day and therefore you should celebrate it. I’m a bit of a take it or leave it person on that one. I have never really understood the craziness over that one day… like it’s the most important day in the world, it’s really just a day.

Friends often react with horror when you say you don’t really bother, that you’ll be alone that day and then comes the awkward need to decline invites, I’m happy just being in my own space. So Christmas Day, not even my festival anyway… one I’m kind of forced to do, although I’m not complaining about a day off. It will be a day of me time. I’ll attempt to get up early and take my dogs somewhere so we can celebrate as a pack. I’m happy not to have to think about cooking a meal that I’m not that fussed over, I’ll probably just eat some cheese and do some painting.

The first year I spent Christmas alone I wasn’t as strong as I am now and I did okay. He was happy settling into his new happily ever after and I was the discarded past. That year I was still angry, still insecure, wondering why the guy I was seeing didn’t want to make the effort, it wasn’t really that, he had family to see himself. This time round the anger is gone, I’m now comfortable in my own company, I actually really enjoy it, I can get so much done.

So I’ll celebrate Yule on the 21st with fire and blessings, then just enjoy the peace of the day to myself, a day without that pressure to conform to the things that we all have to do according to some rule somewhere that’s not even in the bible for the people who suddenly adopt Christianity for a day of overindulgence and materialistic gains.

I never really get the nonsense of the pressure people put themselves under to buy presents just for Christmas, the one up man ship almost competitive gift buying when I’d just rather have nothing. I hate the fact that loved ones and friends stress themselves out over what to buy, stress me out with what should I get you, when the reality is I don’t need anything and so don’t really see the point.

I’ll probably just reflect on the year on my day alone, it’s been a year of extreme change in many ways and it comes from my core, manifesting itself in everything around me. My sense of self worth has grown and in doing so everything around me is affected in a positive way. I do things now that I always thought I couldn’t and most of the time alone, some of the time I’m joined by my daughter. This year I’m not dreading anything, I’m confident in the things that are to come in my life, I’m grateful for the opportunities I get presented with daily to better myself and am the happiest I have ever been. Sometimes it takes the thing you perceive to be the worst thing ever to happen to prove that life is often beyond your control to teach you to let go, and when you do and learn to just be happy in the moment, you feel grounded and relaxed. I guess that’s mostly where I am right now…

Mercenary Witch

Today was the day when the sheer magnitude of the tasks in hand hit home! Less than four weeks in, okay this always happens and I’ve been hired for a reason, I’ve been here before, but I started to wonder if I had perhaps just a little bit over estimated my ability and perhaps for a little while wondered if I had perhaps bitten off more than I could chew. Okay so we all get this at some point, well I get this a lot! There was a moment of make or break in my little head this morning where the angel on my shoulder said “just lay down and roll over” and the devil on the left said “At it girl go slay!” Slapping me on the proverbial and giving me a boost. I thought about the easy job at the government agency for a day rate I’d turned down a few weeks back and questioned my sanity, then remembered that I am a little nuts so this was the right choice.

So the girl who’s never done this before at this level of difficulty, with this level of nothing to work with, and this level of “shit fix it quick” stood and she stood and she kept on standing till every last arrow had been fired, every last bullet ran out and all the cavalry had been slayed or retreated. She shook off her armour, fixed her hair, wiped off the blood and put her sword back in its sheath. She will live to see another battle…

Today’s battle was all in her head, a battle of confidence in her own ability to do the things she’s gonna have to get done. She realised she really isn’t alone, although she felt alone perhaps, everyone here is in the same boat, we’re building from the ground up, we have the ability to shape and mould and create and the world is our oyster if we just work together. The tricky part is often people don’t know what she does, or what she’s there for, they just know the reputation of the sparky red haired witch who fights battle after battle and never gives up. She’s got a lot to live up to, they expect her to answer the questions, their problems. Some view her with suspicion, she’s going to change what they do… well maybe in the long game… but not for a while. The winning of the hearts and the minds is easy for some but impossible with others and it’s the impossible ones that she needs to win over. They’re only a handful but still they exist.

So the crisis of confidence fought, the realisation that they’re all just as scared and if she can just get them to work together the problem will shrink. But where does she start? Where does she begin? Well she’s just gonna take it little by little. No big reveals just yet though it’s tempting, big reveals are a part of her nature, long game, long game, you have to play the long game, there’s no magic spell that can fix this by nightfall, no magic in the world that will do it by the full moon, the half moon or even the new one. The long game she’s in and the long game she’ll do, for the little red witch doesn’t quit doesn’t fail, doesn’t flee doesn’t run. If she has to die inside so she will and respawn for the next day, the next day until… Until she has done it, that’s the day she lies down and takes a deep breath and then starts on her mission to find the next war. Mercenary witch, that’s what you are, stand in battle, cut the right throats, serve the right general and win the right Wars. Mercenary witch, play the long game, for it will all be worth while in the end, you will see…

Sexism…

There are a lot of discussions lately about sexism on social media and I’m welcoming it! The what’s right and wrong and the actually it’s perfectly okay for a woman to say “I haven’t finished can’t you wait a sec?” Is really raising this issue around how we women are traditionally seen as the alien in the office, we keep it balanced but we should never be in charge, and that we rarely have valid points to raise. So I’m going to share some of my past experiences, because they’re pretty relevant to this discussion.

Until pretty recently I’ve always been apologetically polite and it’s done me absolutely no favours in the business world and so I stopped! Here are some of the things that lead to it.

A few years back as a project manager really struggling with getting a development team’s non-technical scrum master to actually deliver the requirements, I remember being blamed by my male manager for being… “intimidating” to all those boys in the room because… and I quote… I was “too knowledgable about the technology” and “too outspoken” when someone was being lazy and trying to get out of delivering what was possible. This manager was also non-technical, hated my curiosity to learn the code that the developers were using and quite frankly didn’t like that I could blow his knowledge out of the water. He was the king of micro management, every time I made a decision with my stake holders on their project, he’d undermine me, every time I challenged requirements not getting delivered, I was told to reign it in… Just who was I managing I this project for? It appeared this was just an exercise in keeping some old school code developers in a job rather than actually delivering any value to the business… very against my ethos.

So one day after the usual drama of the scrum master ignoring the requirements I was asked to sit down and sort out a set of responsibilities. I already had but he was ignoring them. So we sat down again. The result? His worst remark ever for his fragile male ego… “what do you want? A dick measuring competition?” Yes that’s right… I with an innie.. was challenged to measure up against his outie! In a modern day office with HR rules, not that anything got done. Perhaps he expected me to just agree that actually I had no idea what I was doing… or that he could just rule the world or something…

My response… said very dead pan… “well this would be tricky since well I believe my genital anatomy may be different to yours… however from that statement I’m assessing you may feel that my non-existent one is larger that your micro one so yes perhaps I win.”… he had no comeback… I’m an insolent woman aren’t I? Quite how I kept a straight face I’m still not sure. However raising this with my female ops manager a couple of days later that there may have been a bit of a male bullying culture within that team fell on deaf ears to the response of “well boys will banter, you just have to learn to take it.” Funnily enough she’s since been demoted! I didn’t stay there long, I got myself out of that poorly managed area and got to where I am today.

Other things that have happened… I’m a Data Architect… however I’ve been referred to as A Data Analyst and had a shocked response when I’ve corrected them, to the tune of “But you’re too young, you’re too attractive” and the best, “Wow never get women doing that”. These are normally dinosaurs who don’t know any better.

I have definitely been asked who I was sleeping with to get to where I am, and have definitely been referred to as the IT totty. And why? Because people… men and women… don’t expect that a woman can do such a role unless she’s a billion years old. People don’t realise that you can be a mum, have a full life, get to the gym, eat properly, wear clothes that suit your figure and perform a technical role.

So… my pretties, my ladies with the lumps and the bumps, my beautiful readers and the gents who follow to get inside the mind of a woman… remember, we have biological roles and we have professional roles. Biologically it makes sense that I do the popping out of the babies… I have the womb and all that jazz… I’m comforter, I’m the logical wise witch who reminds my child to be kind and I’m the nurturer. However, professionally, my brain is as good and any darn man’s brain you put on that table in front of me! So drop the sexism! Don’t apologise for being funny, clever, or an expert regardless of your gender! Experts come in packages great and small, some with innies, some with outies and the balance of the innie/outie ratio is getting better. I’m not gonna burn my bra… because that shit is expensive. I’m not gonna cry because my code broke any more than the shrivelling mess of a guy that’s been sat there churning through the multitude stored procedures since the dawn of time. But, I am different, and not because of my innie status, nope, because of the way I think and that’s what makes me good at what I do… todays rant… was brought to you by the letters N and O and the number 27… how many Data Architects does it take to change a light bulb? One to model it logically, the same one will work out the size and the storage needed for a lightbulb of that size and document it… then he or she will call the janitor because well, who the fuck is asking me to change a lightbulb? That’s physical work… I only deal in the logical silly! Unless I’m at home of course and then I’ll do it my god damned self!

Vivid Dreams

Vivid dreams always come with a meaning, they’re there to tell me about the things I need to know that. Don’t always know I’m feeling. I analyse my dreams when they’re particularly vivid, because they can tell me a lot. The one I awoke to this morning was interesting and I think it was about responsibility and friendship, possibly sacrifice too.

I was at irk and there was a fire. In this place of work every person had an avatar, a small doll like being that was an exact image of them that would be sent into meetings to do the talking, controlled by the mind from your desk. My new boss has actually just gone on paternity leave, I’m 3 weeks in and sometimes want his guidance but seek it elsewhere till he’s back. Anyhow, so in this fire, I rush to take his avatar and forget my own. I carry this small toddler sized being down the stairs to the outside and hold it so it’s safe. I forget my own entirely. But unknown to me one of my closest friends, she’s been a friend for a very long time (doesn’t even work with me now) has picked up my avatar and emerges from the building safe and sound. I’m so grateful to this friend and she tells me she’ll always be here for me. End of dream.

So what was my dream trying to tell me? I think some is about the responsibility I feel to get things right whilst my boss is away and the worry (not too big) about making decisions without consulting him first. My friend, well I know she would give her right arm just to help me out, she’s an incredibly loyal friend and I love her to bits. But I wonder, did she have an avatar? If she did, did she sacrifice it for her own? So this dream was a reminder that if I take on too much I know my friends will be there for me, but also that I have to be careful that no friend sacrifices their own happiness in order to help. It was a warm dream with a meaning. Don’t let work overcrowd your responsibilities, now I know my boss would agree with this, he’s incredibly fair and I know that my friend would have done this anyway regardless of the situation. So the pressure I creat is purely the pressure from my own expectations of self and not those of others, the knock on effect of this being out of balance is that others suffer. What a good way for my brain to remind me how to remember to balance the things that are really important.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Ever watched how I met you mother? You know that sitcom where a guy is explaining to his kids all the events that led up to him meeting their mother… well I think that actually it’s pretty true of life when we all look back and work out how things unfolded to get to where we are. I had this though whilst during my hair after my shower and that though my led to today’s blog post.

I’d just been tagged into a photo by a lovely lady and fellow blogger that I now regard to be a friend, a good friend and yet had some unfortunate things not happened I would never have met her. Isn’t that odd? The painful stuff led to something awesome, a new friend. This is a lady I’d never have crossed paths with, I’ve never worked with her, we don’t really have the same music taste, I like metal clubs and vodka, she is considerably more upmarket in her tastes and drinks gin! And yet, this lovely lady is actually someone who I have a fair bit in common with in a fair few ways. She’s also on the other side of domestic abuse, hers a controlling situation where she could not leave. This lady who I see as a strong minded beautiful woman went through some very similar things to me.

So the series of unfortunate events… i.e. my terrible dating history, getting dumped in Rome at that point led to me accepting and invite from a male work colleague (also a friend) to go out and drown my sorrows because we were both getting over break ups. Little did I know I would be introduced to his group of friends, one of which was this lovely girl!

Now, if you hadn’t guessed, I struggle with female company, not because I don’t like other girls… more because I’m a tomboy and I have no idea how to do girl talk, I’ve never really been one for fashion, or celebrity gossip or all the other things is girls are expected to fill our lives with. Not that I think all girls really do this. I was bullied at school, by girls, why? Well I wasn’t very girly, I was a little bit different, whilst they were all playing with dolls, I had an A-Team van and some transformers, because that was what I liked. I wasn’t sporty so didn’t fit in with the sport crowd, I didn’t really give a shit about my clothes or my hair so didn’t fit in with the fashionistas, I wasn’t popular, boys did not fancy me at all! And I was quite geeky and outspoken. I was down right weird to be honest, but lacked self esteem so unlike my daughter who is rocking the weird right now, I was not.

So it’s a learned behaviour that girls are nasty and a bit back stabby, I sometimes keep my distance. I find girls can be a bit like cats, you know, when you adopt a new cat and the others just hiss at it… yeah I’m the new one. This was of course reinforced by my experiences of mothers in the playground when I did get the chance to be mom for the day… I was often the odd one out because of course most of the time I wasn’t there to be part of that group and so often felt I was being viewed sideways with suspicion by the others.

Girl workmates, no dramas, we’re comrades, therefore we get on! But out of context girl friendships, that’s new to me. And actually really valuable because I’m learning to play nice with my own kind and that not all girls are mean.

When I first started being on my own, I already had one close female friend who wasn’t a work colleague, a fellow mom who also didn’t fit in. And a couple of others I’d met in various groups and was able to learn we’re okay because there was the context of the club. But the idea of “hanging out with your girlfriends” as I was so often told I should now do at the time was like… “WTF?!? All my best friends are boys?!?”

I remember reading about the IT girl who had no female friends so her male friends sorted her hen do… I always imagined this would be me! Not that I will ever have a hen do… who is gonna marry this? Lol! Well more, I’m not sure I want to do getting married either… that’s a lot of commitment and I can’t even make up my mind about my lipstick and commit to it so I have a long way to go before I can commit to anything bigger! I did however feel relieved that there were other girls like me who had grown up and worked in a predominately male culture and just kind of lived that way too.

So my series of unfortunate events so far have led to…. getting closer to friends I already had… a few other friends now going through similar series of unfortunate events getting closer to me and us sharing our shitty stories, empathising and feeling better. A now very good new female friend who I’d have never otherwise have met.

After worrying for such a long time that I’d be alone forever because I can’t make friends too easily, suddenly I’m realising the only barrier was me. If I’d never have taken to opportunities, accepted invitations, normally I’d have felt too embarrassed to meet new people and socialise with strangers, I would not have the friends I now have today. Even as I write today it’s hitting home that actually your friends really should come before any romantic relationship. Because it’s your friends who will be there for you if it all goes wrong, they are the ones who will help you get over the humps, cheer you one and sometimes help you pick up the pieces when stuff gets fucked up. That’s the beauty of friendship, it’s a give and take thing. Real friends will be happy if you find the right guy and want to help you bury the body of the wrong guy… it’s my friends who I can now go out with, in fact, thinking about this, it’s something I did before when I was younger, but lost when I let a relationship come before the friends I had. You never fully lose touch but it’s never the same and people move on.

So I’m enjoying being single, having friends from all walks of life and particularly grateful to the series of unfortunate events that lead to the better things that were to come as a result of not moping alone and getting out there anyway. We all have those moments when we sing Mariah Cary “without you!” And think we’re doomed, but it really doesn’t have to be true… actually, I can live if living is without you, and you and him over there too… because life really does carry on we just have to choose to participate…