Sunday, 27 January 2019

It's Been A While

It's been a while since my last post.  Apologies and all that. The year didn't exactly get off to the start that I was hoping for. I got a bit of an unpleasant surprise on returning to work and found myself managing the shop for the first two weeks of the year. It was a bit eventful, broken lift, no Wifi for a few days, lots of things seemed to go wrong, and I wasn't in the greatest of moods if I'm honest, but I got through it and didn't work very many extra hours.

I did, however, apply for some new jobs that came up with the same charity to help open a couple of new shops in the east end of London.  They were much closer to home, so less of a commute.  I had an interview on Friday, which seemed to go well and should find out on Monday, but to be honest I've decided not to take them even if I am offered them.

I found out yesterday that one of our long term pivotal volunteers has left the shop and got a full time job.  I'm pleased for her, of course, but it means that I can't in all honesty find it in me to leave now, even if I got the chance.  Besides, there were a few issues around the potential jobs that put me off a little. It was, in any case, a good exercise in looking out for myself and keeping my options open.

It's also been a busy month in other ways.  LB had her 16th birthday a couple of weeks ago.  It's hard to believe that she's so grown up now. She's also gone out and found herself a part-time job working on a vintage clothing kilo sale once a month.  She starts next weekend and I know she'll love it. In case anyone's not sure what this is, it is a clothing sale where you fill a bag with 1kg of clothes and pay a set price such as £10 or £15. You might get a couple or lots of items, depending on what they weigh.

In other news the dog had to go to the vets for teeth cleaning under anaesthetic. It was a bit of a shock for OH when he received a bill for £550.  After telling OH that he needed to take a couple of teeth out, the vet took out 9 teeth, 6 of which were the tiny bottom front ones between her canines.  He said they were loose and she didn't need them, but we were a bit upset and thought it a little excessive. She's lost her little toothy smile now.  I call her Gummy Bear, because she looks like a teddy bear and now she's all gums.  I'm sad about it though. Needless to say, we're not going back to that vet again.

I've also just come back from a two day course through work. I had to stay overnight in a hotel with the other people on the course.  It was great to meet other Shop Managers and Deputies and hear their stories. It actually made me realise that I don't actually necessarily have it so bad where I am. Some people have far worse working situations for one reason or another. We seemed to be a friendly enough bunch anyway and some of us stayed up until 11pm chatting in the bar.

Yesterday, I had to complete my final tax return relating to the small business I used to run.  It was thankfully even easier than it had been in previous years, on account of HMRC making some changes to the form, that meant that I didn't actually need to fill invery much at all. It would be pointless to fill one in from now on. (Sigh of relief)

With that done, I'm feeling a lot better and today I'm venturing back to work for the first time in a week. I feel recovered after having a week away from the shop and ready to get back to it. Just as well really, as it's going to be a bit of a slog from now on.

I've decided that I may change my mode of transport for getting to work.  I'm thinking of getting a bus to an Underground station and then take the Tube to work.  It will be more expensive, but much quicker I hope and should shave at least half an hour (hopefully more) off my two hour (in total) daily commute. I'm going to try it out this week and see how it goes.  I might avoid the Underground in the warmest months of the year though, as it can get way too hot and unbearable.

Healthwise, not a lot has changed so far this year.  I've got to the gym a couple of times, but I haven't yet managed to get the results of my blood tests, as every time the doctor has tried to call me back, I haven't caught the call.  One doctor did leave a message to say there was nothing really to worry about and that nothing had changed much, but I still need to speak to her in person really.

I have also had a much needed haircut, which I did before going away on the course and having the interview.  It always makes me feel like I'm actually taking some care of my appearance, but I hate having it done, so only ever go once every six months or so.

A lot to catch you guys up on, but hopefully from here on in things will settle down a bit. I hope your January has been a good one.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

2019 - A Year of Self-Care

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone reading.  2018 was a good year for us.  I stayed in paid employment, we lived within our means for the most part and I continued to save money both for LB's future and our own. There were many things to be grateful for, our health and well being and few real problems to contend with. I'm hoping 2019 won't be too different in many ways.

2019 is, however, going to different in one respect, if  I can help it, because I've decided that it is going to be a year of self care for me. On visiting the doctor's surgery on Xmas Eve, I was told that at 52, I have the heart health of a 64 year old. This, as you can imagine, was a bit of a wake up call.  I knew I had a cholesterol problem and had put on 4kg this year, but when you're told your heart is twelve years older than it actually is, it is a bit of a depressing thought. Having already, before attending the appointment, decided that I needed to take more care of myself in 2019, the nurse's words cemented the idea for me.

So, this New Year, I'm going to start taking care of myself.  I've lost count of the number of gym classes I've missed because of work this year and the unhealthy treats I've indulged in after a busy day at work. I'm taking the view that it's time to get a better work/life balance. I'm often so exhausted on my days off, that I overeat and can't seem to summon up the energy to do much at home.

I think the time has come to do a bit less at work.  I know that sounds wrong, but I give 125% most days and it's really not sustainable.  I need to take time out from work to have my lunch (preferably a salad), leave at a reasonable hour (i.e no more than 30 minutes after the shop has closed for the day) and just generally stop overdoing it. I've also developed a kind of repetitive strain type injury to my right forearm, which I think has been caused by humping around bags and bags of donations, and steaming thousands of items of clothing over the last few months.

2018 was a challenging year for the shop for a number of reasons: lack of volunteers, the remaining hours of my post not being recruited for most of the year, loss of footfall due to the heat this summer and Brexit amongst other reasons, all of which took their toll on our figures, which I took to heart and stressed over. As a consequence, I developed several very bad habits: eating too much chocolate and too many bags of crisps, exercising less, not to mention drinking lager at the end of a busy day (this started in the heat of the summer and continued for the rest of the year), all as a treat to myself after a busy day at work, but all of which have led me to where I am this Christmas.

Taking a step back isn't easy, but I've got to do it.  For both myself and my family. If I don't, my body is going to make me and I don't want it to get to that.We now have another Deputy working the remaining 12 hours of my post and lots of interns lined up to work over the next few months, so this should help, but I've got to be disciplined about it too.  It's easy to get used to not leaving until after 7pm and getting home at 8.30pm, but I don't see other managers in other shops doing the same. They've obviously got more sense. I'm not helping anyone and certainly not helping myself by my behaviour at work. It's giving a false impression of the shop results too.

I'm back to work tomorrow, and hopefully, having time off this Christmas will have allowed me to re-program my work mind set and go back with more realistic expectations of myself, as well as break some of the bad habits that have become established over the last six months. I'll need to take it a day at a time and make a conscious effort to pace myself and resist my natural urge to dive in and give too much to the job, at the expense of the rest of my life. I'll let you know how I get on.