I got the job!

As you have guessed from the title I got the job!

There were moments of self-doubt where I thought I might fall at the last hurdle, that all my hard work would have been for nothing and I would either end up the position I didn’t want or no job at all.

There have been moments of tears, laughter, high and low levels of confidence. Despite all the rollercoaster of emotions I am pleased to say that I didn’t stray from my goal, I knew what I wanted and that I was going to do what I needed to do to achieve it.

This is a bitter sweet moment for me. I have the position that I want but it also means going forward the new team is going to look very different. These changes do unsettle me and the next few months are going to be difficult. I will being saying bye to people who I see as a support system at work, made going to work fun and interesting and boosted each other’s confidence.

We are all at different points in our lives and through the restructure process have had to learn to adapt, and think about what these changes mean for each of us. As much as I would like to work with these people forever, that isn’t how the world and life in general works. To grow and evolve we sometimes need these out of the blue curve balls to give us the kick we need to stop coasting and go for what we really want, and if we don’t know what that is then take the time to find out. 

My future

It’s a daunting and exciting time for me.

I love what I do,  it’s just a bit overwhelming at the moment. There is going to be a lot of hard work to be done and some steep learning curves ahead but I think I’m ready.

It’s not even been a week and I have already been given new tasks that I hadn’t previously been involved in, learning to question, planning and organise a project / campaign in a logical manner instead of getting over excited and needing to be reigned in by someone senior, as now I am that senior person.

I still have a way to go in terms of my personal and skills development but then who is a perfect fit for every job they have ever applied for?

Travelling: I don’t like flying

Before I got married I wasn’t ever much of a traveller since then I have been fortunate to have travelled to some beautiful countries, Bali, Cambodia and have recently returned from a well deserved break to Thailand.

As much as I enjoyed spending time in these fantastic countries, I dislike flying for a number of reasons which I’ve outlined below. Personally I think I could have been more scathing but then this article could have turned into an essay.

Travel sickness

I have not ever been a great back seat driver, doesn’t matter the vehicle there is a good chance I will still become unwell, this is even with travel sickness tablets.

On the journey to Thailand I must have been in the toilet too long as the air stewardesses were knocking on the door.  I had become unwell and was trying to pull myself together before returning to my seat.

Food

I wouldn’t say I am a fussy eater but when it comes to flying I have learnt to take snacks with me on the plane as I cannot stomach plane food. Every time the food arrived Husband already knew I wouldn’t eat very much. Long plane journey and not eating a lot did worry Husband, but what he failed to understand is that I know my body and eating the reheated meal on a turbulent plane does not go down well with my stomach, see previous point.

In the end we came to an agreement that I would eat the fruit, yoghurt and bread roll, it seemed whatever the meal you were always giving those three food items, anything else was a bonus.

People

Along with plane food (unless you are in first / business class) this one is a common gripe.  I do wonder about the human race sometimes, I know I can be a bit vocal that Husband had to reign me in a few times but it only takes a few people to make a situation challenging.

We are all in the same situation, in economy, in the same small amount of space. So why is it necessary for the person behind me to dig their knees into the back of my seat, even if they are a similar height to me? I am 5.1 and was fortunate to have a reasonable amount of leg room, so there was no excuse as to why I would be digging my knees into the back of the seat in front of me. The same happened to Husband, it got to the point he had to speak with the person behind and ask them to be a bit more considerate. In husbands scenario what was the problem? They wanted to slouch in the seat as if they were in their own living room. Come on people use a bit of common sense, we are in economy with barely enough space to swing a cat let alone behave as if there is no one else around.

This may sound like a minor issue but when you are on a 13 hour flight you start to lose patience and understanding for the inconsiderate flyer.

Turbulence

Not to self, avoid the news when on holiday!

We flew Thai airways so of course two days before we are flying out Pakistan close their airspace forcing the air line to cancel their flights to Europe until they can find an alternative flight route. We were fortunate that all flights has resumed by the time it came for us to fly out to Thailand. We were checking that everything was still ok with our flight home and subsequently read the news reports about the recent air disasters.

So me being a novice flyer, every time the plane has a bit of turbulence and the seat belt light came on all that would come into my mind is how far were we from the nearest airport.

Me nerves were fried by the time we landed.

Future

Despite my woes when it comes to flying Husband is already planning our next holiday to another part of Asia. I can’t fault him as there are some beautiful countries, with interesting culture and history that are worth visiting.

I know that my relationship with flying is something I will have to come to terms with, it’s a case of deal with it if I want to ever want to travel outside the UK again.

It’s restructure time!

Department restructures are not ever an easy thing, they create tension, stress, and relationships can become strained.

I’m coming to the end stages of my teams restructure process, it has been emotionally and mentally drained me. In this restructure I am competing with my colleagues for the same positions. For the most part I enjoy my job but it doesn’t hurt to want a more & I now have the opportunity to apply for a promotion, which I have done.

It would be daft for me to pin all my hopes on this one job, what if it doesn’t work out, then what will I do? I have had to look at all my options and the changes I need to make, you don’t know when the next opportunity will land on your doorstep.

It’s not all doom and gloom

Yes going through a re-structure can be a negative experience, but it also has it’s benefits. In my case it has forced me to re-evaluate my personal objectives asking myself;

  • what is it that I want?
  • how do I go about getting it?

This process has helped me to get my mojo back, build confidence in myself and the work that I do. With this new found confidence I have been;

  • updating my cv
  • applying for jobs
  • working on my online presence
    • being more active on my Twitter and LinkedIn pages
    • reviving this neglected blog

It is hard work, and at times it does feel like I have two jobs, but it is important to keep the momentum going and remaining as consistent as possible.

When I’m tired and I think I can’t do anymore I like to remember;

  • have fun and enjoy what I do
  • be selective with the information I share online but not too stuffy. You don’t know what shared interest will open the door to your next job
  • comment and like other peoples posts
  • be myself and let my dry sense of humour shine through
  • be patient, everything takes time
  • don’t be too hard on myself, if I don’t have time to write a blog article one week then that’s ok, it’s not the end of the world
  • aim high and keep moving forward with a smile

I’ve had the interview it’s now wait for the outcome, fingers crossed.

Staff awards

At work last week was the annual staff awards ceremony; Quality Awards.

This event is organised and run by the Communications team, the team I am a part Quality Awards 2019 207of. Guess what, this year the HR and Communications nominated for the Chair award for the work that had been done to recruit and retain staff. I am pleased to say that we won ‘Highly Commended’. This is a huge achievement and it’s just nice to be recognised for the hard work and effort of everyone involved.

These awards are about the staff across the whole Trust, recognising and appreciating their hard work and dedication to their colleagues and their patients.

  • individuals and teams are nominated by their colleagues and patients
  • it is funded with sponsorship money, usually from companies who we have worked with such as printing companies

Quality Awards 2019 023It’s an amazing evening where staff can dress up and mingle with staff from different parts of the Trust, put names to faces and overall have an enjoyable evening. Plus everyone who attended loved the obligatory hand clappers.

Despite all this positivity it can be a bit disheartening when you hear some of the negative comments about the evening, how it is about the Executive team and that money for services had been used to fund the awards.

I understand why some people have reacted the way they have to the staff awards, it doesn’t help when the media focuses on the staff shortages, lack of funding for essential services and generally how the NHS is failing.
Despite all this, the hard working staff deserved the awards evening and the joy you see on their faces when they received their awards was priceless.

Social media; content creators and their followers

I joined a webinar organised by BLG Data Research Centre about A Little Less Lonely: Social media and its effects on mental health and wellbeing.

The key speaker was Shaaba Lotun, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology, and renowned vlogger and online creator. The webinar explored her early research findings on how the relationships we make on social media can influence our mental health and wellbeing.

A part of me was expecting to listen to a lot of negative feedback surrounding social media and the effects it can have on users and their wellbeing. There are plenty of studies, reports and media attention highlighting the negative impact social media can have on our wellbeing. So it was refreshing to listen the other side, the side that isn’t denying the dark side of social media but through research and feedback highlighting the positive effects social media can have in peoples lives.

Relationships

I liked how the webinar talked about the different relationships users would have with social media content creators using the terms weak ties and strong ties.

  • weak ties; these are the casual relationships we have, people who are acquaintances
  • strong ties; these are relationships we have with our family, spouses

It was particularly interesting to hear that the strong ties we would have with people who are close to us is also how many people feel about their relationship with someone they follow on YouTube. Despite the channel of dialogue being mostly one way followers will still feel a bond because of the visual aspect and personal information YouTube share with their followers building a personal connection with their followers. Through commenting on posts social media was seen as a way to build communities, commenting to show support and solidarity to not only the poster but also to their fellow followers.

I follow some fitness YouTubers who have a strong following and I can see why. They not only focus in exercise and weight loss but also building body confidence and a healthy mind and body. They focus on eating healthy, sharing workout routines to suit different people, so if your knees hurt they will have a video that avoids jumping. Haven’t got a lot of time in the day they will have a series of short but effect videos, these are the ones I tend do in the mornings before work. But importantly they also show their human side. They don’t just show themselves laughing and smiling but also sharing their own weight, health and mental health struggles, this makes them more relatable and real. It is because of this approach YouTube was seen to have a more positive effect on users Mental Health, this may not come as a surprise but Instagram was seen as the social media site to have the most negative impact.

These type of relationships place a lot of responsibility on the YouTube content creators, with this in mind the webinar touched on there being a need for creative training for creators so they are mindful about the content they share and how this could potentially effect their followers.

We live a technology word but instead on letting it consume our daily lives we can use it to our advantage.  It can be a way to create a community online but also arrange meet-ups at a coffee shop, restaurant, move the relationship from the digital world to the physical one.

Future of social media

What I learned from the webinar is;

  • live streaming is a way to share large amounts of content, good and bad
  • policies to regulate social media struggles to keep up with the constant changes and evolving nature of social media. This isn’t to say that the policy makers shouldn’t try and enforce boundaries to reduce negative behaviour but to protect those strong tie relationships between followers and creators.
  • need to educate people about their behaviour and the effects it could have on others
  • need to have an open and honest conversation about social media usage

This webinar made me think more about the online relationships we have with each other and how social media can use its powers for good.

I’ve been converted!

I have got a new toy, a Kindle!

Kindle 2_rotatedI was one of those people who were loyal to the trusted paperback, I love my books, to the dismay of my husband I have a book case full of them. Occasionally they find their way on the floor by the side of the bed, I don’t have a bedside cabinet.

Husband is a minimalist and has referred to my book collection as ‘clutter’, lets just say that was the first and the last time he has referred to my collection as clutter.

It had been on my mind for some time whether to buy one or not. Amazon was offering a discount so I decided to take the plunge and I haven’t regretted it.

Travelling is where the Kindle has come in handy. Where I would be restricted by the number of books I could fit in my luggage I now have a reading selection at my fingertips. The product is

  • lightweight
  • very thin
  • long lasting battery
  • being a klutz I bought the waterproof version.

My only issue is the cost of some of the books available as an eBook. I haven’t bought a book at its normal retail price for a long time instead opting to buy from charity shops.

Kindle Library  was ok but I could only borrow and return 1 book a month, not sure if this is related to the Kindle subscription; Kindle Unlimited which I haven’t signed up to.

Free books are available to download. I have tried a few of these and they haven’t disappointed, one way to discover some new authors.

99p books are much like the free selection. A good way to discover new authors without breaking the bank.

PDF format. I friend told me about this, I can Google the books that I want in PDF format, download and email to my Kindle. When viewing the file on the Kindle the layout may differ but not a huge amount.

I will always like a paperback / hardback book, there is something about the holding a physical book that a Kindle can’t mimic but this electronic device does come close.

Give your mental health the boost it needs with exercise

It’s not rocket science, we all know that looking after our health through exercise and clean eating is good for us. If you are happy with the way you are then great, it’s all about body confidence, but did you know that exercise and reducing your rubbish food intake doesn’t just keep your internal organs happy, help you lose weight and become stronger but it can also benefit your mental health.

When you exercise your body releases happy chemicals in your body; endorphins, dopamine and serotonin helping with the following;

  • reduce stress
  • ward off anxiety and feelings of depression
  • boost self-esteem
  • improve sleep

I’m not saying you need to strap on your trainers and get ready to run a marathon but just moving that little bit more can make all the difference to how you feel about yourself.

Ideally you should be aiming to get:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Set yourself realistic goals, if you want to relax and unwind try yoga. If you want something with a bit more intensity then try a cardio workout, there is something for everyone.

  • fitting in a home workout session while you watch your favourite programme two or three times a week.
  • YouTube have some excellent videos to suit all fitness levels, at the moment these are my preferred forms of exercise.
  • NHS website has some great suggestions to get you moving.

If home workouts aren’t for you then a group like Fitness in Mind could be just what you need. It ‘..was founded in 2014 by a kick boxer with social anxiety disorder, a rock climber with general anxiety disorder, and a couch potato with bipolar disorder’ so these people know what they are talking about. Through physical activity and creating a safe and welcoming environment they help people with mental health illnesses work through their concerns and feel good about themselves.

Sports for Confidence is another group who are doing a lot to help people to help people take back some control they may have lost because of their illness through exercise.

Don’t like the idea of structured exercise then try going for long walks, gardening even housework can have the same effect. If you’re anything like me then housework is way down your list of activities.

My fitness journey

I only started to look after myself in my adult years. As a child I was underweight, and didn’t have much strength. Throughout the years my relationship with exercise has changed. I’ve gone from being a cardio gym bunny to finding stress relief through kickboxing to now fitting in short but effective YouTube video workouts in the morning before work.

My lifestyle has changed and I have had to find ways to adapt to those changes. In my blog post ‘Trousers are a bit tight’ I talk about how I had put on weight and though not overweight I wasn’t happy with how I was feeling with myself inside and out.

Getting up earlier in the morning to workout wasn’t easy to begin with, I had to set myself realistic goals and start with less intense workouts and work my way up. I started to notice that even though I would be worn out I would recover quickly, as a result I have begun to feel more positive and happier within myself. It’s not about getting a 6 pack but getting to a point where I am content.

Running was on the cards for a period of time, due to the temperamental weather changes this has taken a back seat for now. Yes I know it’s a lame excuse.

Diet and moving more go hand in hand, by releasing the happy chemicals in my body  and choosing different types of food to keep me fuller for longer means I’m not always reaching for a sugar fix in the afternoons. I have tried to get to stage where I have a balance between healthy food, junk food and how much I move.

Exercise is not a magic pill and there are conditions that will require medication to help people feel better. This isn’t a sign of weakness, it takes strength to accept help when it’s needed.
The first step is the hardest but when you do you’ll be surprised by the results.

Employers; Are you missing out on a talented autistic employee?

16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment

Employers want capable, talented employees but in this day and age they must know they are missing out on one part of society? Those with autism may lack the ability to sell themselves, do not have the same social skills as others and questions need to be direct and clear. But they are also hardworking, talented, creative people that deserve to have the same opportunity as others. Not everyone is suitable for mainstream employment but isn’t it time that the recruitment process is given an overhaul so those on the spectrum who can work and want to work are given that option?

It’s no secret my own brother has Asperger’s and a degree in graphics and animation. Like my brother many people with autism struggle to find suitable employment. Those diagnosed with Asperger’s will understand and can relate to my brother in the sense that he doesn’t have the same social skills as you and I. He doesn’t make eye contact when speaking, his expression and his tone of voice can be a bit monotone, unless you tap into something he is passionate about then he becomes quite animated even throwing in the odd witty comment.
He is currently working with a fantastic group called Signpost that are helping him re-write his CV, write job applications, helping him prepare for interviews as well as boosting his confidence. I know that with the support he is receiving he will eventually be successful. He has a great work ethic, is creative and hardworking,  the concern will then be the interview stage. My hope is that potential employers will do their research and adapt their interview process.

The National Autistic Society has some useful interview tips and advice for employing someone with autism, from creating the right job advert through to the interview stage. Interviews can be a daunting experience, so imagine how someone with autism will feel.

A solution for one parent was to create his own company that only employs people with autism, Auticon. Formerly known as Mindspark, was created by Gray Benoist, a parent of two autistic sons who saw the lack of employment options for them so decided to take matters into his own hands.

Our mission is about enabling a group who have been disenfranchised. There are many segments of society that are under-utilised and people on the autistic spectrum are one of them

In the UK two autistic brothers decided to change their employment situation by opening their own comic book shop. It wasn’t an easy task to begin with but with the support of their family the business is still going.

My aim is to not vilify employers but this is an ongoing problem and concern. Despite all the education, knowledge out there, groups emphasising that in the right environment autistic people can thrive we are still in this position. It’s a different world we are living in now, many people don’t work 9-5 they work hours to suit the demands of the company and to accommodate their lifestyle for a better work life balance plus the option to work remotely. So if companies can adapt to these changes then why not adapt to employ people with autism?

This isn’t an easy task and not even something all companies can invest in, but it is down to all of us to get the best out of people. Sometimes a bit of kindness, understanding and time can make all the difference. Put a bit of effort into investing in people and you’ll be surprised by the positive results.

Mental health in the Asian community

Time to Talk Day 7 February.

‘..one in four of us, yet people are still afraid to talk about it. Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to talk about mental health.’

This year the theme is having the right ingredients, to have a conversation about mental health. This could be from having a private chat over a cup of tea to hosting an open event where strangers can get together and share their experiences. Whether it’s private or public it’s all about creating a comfortable, non-judgemental environment where anyone and everyone can feel safe to talk about mental health whether it is their own or someone they know.

Despite all the work being done to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health there are still communities that do not understand mental health and see it as an illness that will go away with some tablets, it is a punishment that can be treated by praying more or by carrying out particular rituals.

Those in the Asian community living with a mental health illness may keep this a secret from their family, friends because of the stigma still associated with mental health and the fear of being ostracised. Then there is the fear of what society will say if they found out, what they will say about the parents, who will marry them.

‘…kept their illness secret from their spouse for more than 20 years.’

My own brother has Asperger’s, our own parents didn’t really understand what this meant and what it meant for my brother. It wasn’t something anyone in their family has come across before, this it isn’t because no one else had been diagnosed with autism but because it isn’t something that is recognised or acknowledged. In there minds there was nothing wrong, which in some ways is a good thing because my brother is capable of doing many things but his normal is not the same normal for everyone one else.

I don’t want readers to think that families / friends don’t care but to understand that this isn’t a community that wouldn’t come together. No one should have to hide how they feel but it isn’t easy to break the mould, to go against cultural thinking and traditions that have been ingrained from childhood.

Changes are happening

Culture has a way of adapting without breaking traditions. For many people religion is part of their identity who may feel that being mentally unwell could compromise that relationship it can make seeking help and starting the recovery journey more difficult. This doesn’t need to be the case, religion could help those with mental health by teaching that religion doesn’t turn their back on those who are suffering but giving them the tools to find inner strength and seek help.

Coming together

Within the Asian community there are three main faiths, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism. Throughout history and even still today relationships between the three religions can be strained at times but not in the world of mental health. There are support groups specifically aimed at those of each religious group but will openly encourage and support each other.

When it comes to helping each other even though we may have different ways of practicing our faith it all comes down to one things, being a decent human being and helping each other out. No deserves to be alone.

Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network (MCAPN)
Sikh Forgiveness
Bengali Mental Health Movement
South Asian Health Foundation
Mind
Rethink

Shine the light on me

Last weekend the husband’s family had arranged a prayer at the temple for his nieces’ birthday followed by a celebration of Lohri at home. All sounds simple, don’t need to dress over the top to sit in a house of god right…wrong!

It has been 6 months since I have been married but am still thought of a new bride whom the mother in law wanted to introduce and show off to others. Something I am not comfortable with, on previous occasions there has been a silent battle as I have chosen to wear something appropriate for the occasion, still looking nice just according to ‘others’ who these others are I don’t know, I don’t look like a new bride. lohri imageThis time you all would have been impressed, I dressed as if I was going to a wedding whilst others who attended wore clothes and accessories that were less in your face some even came in jeans and a jumper and had a shawl to cover their head.

I wore an outfit that sparkled and shined with matching accessories, my makeup was full on from primer, foundation to copious amounts of powder that it did not budge all day and evening. I have to say even I was impressed with how my hair and makeup turned out. Excuse the reflection of husband while he took my picture.

Fake it until you make it people that was the mantra of the day.

I am happy to be left alone in a corner on this occasion I plastered a smile on my face as I was introduced to aunties who’s names and faces I won’t remember but if nothing else I was making a good impression with even one aunties looking at me and saying ‘nice, very nice’. High to five to me.

Back at home where Lohri was being celebrated I put on a hoodie for the bonfire which the older ladies sung and danced to. A little bit of background to Lohri in the words of Wikipedia;

Lohri is the celebration of the arrival of longer days after the winter solstice

 In this case the mother in law was saying it’s a celebration of mine and husband getting married. Who would have thought there would be so much attention on us two just for getting married, lucky us. Once the bonfire part was over, I was back in jeans and a jumper feeling more myself again.

Overall it was a nice day and hopefully the ‘new bride’ title will be passed onto someone who is actually a new bride. I am not interested in other people’s opinions or whether I should still look like a bride, as far as I am concerned that is old news now. People were asking when they will hear the pitter patter of little feet, me and husband have decided they must be thinking we are getting another puppy.