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A dad's journey into health

Reluctantly Redundant

I never asked or wanted to be made redundant, who does?  But when it comes, it’s a huge shock to the system, I never realised how much I took work for granted, it was always a constant in my life and I assumed it would stay that way.  That being said I always thought I would be fine, as I am quite emotionally strong and resilient.  I’ve been through tough times before, why would this be any different?

The fact of the matter is though, it is different.  It is rejection on a massive scale.  It has the ability to make you feel worthless and unwanted.  It’s been an up and down journey so far since my last day in October (hence the lack of bloggage).

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And I’m not out of the woods yet, it’s still difficult and there are good days and bad, although most of the bad days are now money related.   Iv’e mentioned it before but the biggest impact on me has been the loss of the social element of work.  Having nice people around you that know you, your history and things that are going on in your life.  That’s been really tough to come to terms with.  There have been days where I have dropped the wife off at the train station, got the kids to nursery and school all before 9am and the next time I speak to another person is 3.30pm when I pick the kids up.  It can be really lonely and isolating.

Iv’e heard all the advice about exercise, keeping busy , getting involved, putting yourself out there etc.  But the reality is there aren’t that many opportunities to do them (i could just be looking in totally the wrong place though).  It’s probably the old fashioned geezer in me but I also feel a terrible pressure to provide for the family, I guess this is part and parcel of being a parent though.

One of the most bizarre things is that you lose motivation.  I assumed I would be constantly looking for work, cleaning the house, doing DIY and washing clothes to keep busy, instead I get up do a quick job search watch tv or play games.  Sometimes I can’t even be bothered making lunch, what’s the point.

But there is a point and it’s hard to find.  Luckily I managed to get a bit of work helping out a local community interest organisation doing some youth work.  It’s okay money and I would love to work there full time, but with all these things that would rely on funding, and as local authorities are still cutting services there are a lot more smaller companies being set up and competing for that money (sad face).    I digress though.    The point is this,  doing something, even a little bit lifts your spirit and gives you hope.  This is now where I am living, in hope.   Still plucking away, still applying, still getting rejected ha ha but never giving up.

Hope you guys are okay out there and if you are going through something similar please comment below.  It’s good to talk about it.

Tough times don’t last, tough people do.

See you next time.

 

What to do? Where to go?

I am finding that being redundant is actually quite difficult.  First of all having your first week off in the middle of half-term is not conducive to job searches, secondly there is the fine line between needing a certain level of income versus the type of work you want to do. Which one do I choose?  I think that the money is a short term fix but may lead to long term job satisfaction issues, whereas getting a job in the field I want may mean working further away (childcare headache) or a lesser income.  It’s a real puzzler.

There is also the very real worry that I actually like being at home through the week.  I can get loads done, home improvements, finally getting on top of the mountains of washing and playing the Xbox (a real job search killer).  But no, I must be strong and remain professional.  I can catch up on all this when I retire ha ha.  But seriously, I think the biggest problem with being at home all day is the lack of social interaction, it’s bloody lonely.  I never realised how important routine and people were to my sanity.

It’s not all doom and gloom.  If I flip these problems on their heads they develop a positive sheen.  It is quite liberating knowing that you can do anything and take any opportunities as they are no longer such risks as I’ve already lost my job.

This week coming up is decision time though I feel.  Kids back at school I need to knuckle down and make some choices about WHAT I ACTUALLY WANT.  It’s a harder decision than you might think.  I still need to do Youth Work in order to complete my degree and I feel it would be a waste of my skills if I didn’t, whether that’s part time or voluntary remains to be seen, but there just aren’t the full time positions out there.

Wish me luck and I will keep you posted.  SI still feel this is a blessing in disguise, only time will tell I guess.

Embrace change and enjoy the journey folks.  Kisses

Biggest Fear Realised

Wow it’s been a long time since my last blog.  A LOT has happened.  My worst fear came to pass this week and I have been made redundant, gone, binned, hung out to dry and so forth.  It was a hugely difficult time for me on the run up to doomsday.  Three of us were going for two jobs and whad’ya know I was the one that missed out.

After that I still had to turn up for two weeks and show my face. all the while cringing inside, desperately worried for what was to come (where the money was coming from and how the hell can I support my family).  On my last day, I turned up went through the motions, handed all my stuff back in and then just slunk off.  I was too miserable to say goodbye to most people and to be honest to ashamed and embarrassed to be the only one without a job.  I did get a leaving gift which I was surprised about, a voucher, that will go nicely towards an Xbox game to cheer myself up.

The rest of the day was weird and a bit miserable too.  But I was shocked to wake up this morning (2 days later), to feel like a huge weight has been lifted off me, and I have lots of new opportunities to pursue.  I hadn’t realised just how much the job had changed over the years, and how far away from youth work people had let the service drift.  So I am updating my CV, looking around for new opportunities and feeling quite positive about the whole experience.  Like I have been set free.

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Okay, so there is still an element of worry there, as we only have enough money to last about three months, so I need to find work quick but that’s okay, everything will be okay. I know I have people around me that care (and at the moment constantly send me job advertisements).

Truth-be-told, I think that I had fallen out of love with the job, it was never clearly defined what it should be.  It started off perfect but after a few years and a few changes of management it was battered into a shape it should never had been, and squeezed into space that it didn’t really fit into.

I still love youth work and feel I need to get back to the traditional universal club atmosphere.  To keep my skills up and to complete my degree.  But other than that I have an opportunity to explore what I want, maybe even diversify into a totally different field.  Who knows?

All I know is that the future is looking okay for now and I hope to keep you all up to date with my different goings on over this strange time.

Toodles

Futures

So like my kids, I too have had the summer off (from blogging) and just tried to immerse myself in the family and having a right good time.  We did as well.  But now it’s back to the grindstone and earning some pennies. But it’s tough sometimes.

I took the cover photo of my clan the other night, and it made me think about all of our different futures.  What type of world are they going to grow up in? What challenges and hard times will they have to get through? I imagine it will be mostly like mine (and yours I suppose), but with so much more information, and the sate of things I feel that they are going to have to cope with things that I didn’t have to.  It seems that the whole world now, is gripped by fear, anger and stress.  A place where only the selfish and  greedy succeed.

I worry for their immediate future also.  Both myself and my wife are facing possible redundancy.  All we really want to do is our jobs, earn fair salaries and the pay off of that is getting time with our kids doing fun things together.  Why does stress have to play such a huge role in these times?  Is it just me, but I don’t remember growing up times being this stressful (or maybe they were, maybe it is just having a young family is stressful, having to pay lots out and worrying about every little thing.  Will this time pass as the kids get older and a little more independent).

I find working very stressful at the moment.  The thing is, stress affects us all and personally I don’t like what it does to me, I worry about my kids and try to keep everyone safe and happy.  It makes me selfish as I don’t know if things are always going to be there.  Am I going to stay in work? is my wife? could we lose the house?………  and on it goes.  I feel so sorry for the rational part of me, because he must be exhausted having to work so hard to keep me calm and sane, believe it or not I am for the most part but it’s tough and gets on top of everyone from time to time.

All this is more stressful because I love working with young people and I love being a youth worker.  I believe there are so many young people out there that need that support and help.  It’s so frustrating to know that my country doesn’t feel the same way.  I have chosen a career that the government want to quash and de-professionalise (don’t think that’s a word), do they really not see the bigger picture, can they not look ahead ten years and see the problems this will cause? or do they just not care? Is it the next guy’s issue?

When I look around, why are the people in caring roles the ones struggling so much? When people selling false promises and the things people can’t afford doing so well.

As a father what advice do I give to my children?  Seriously I don’t know.  Do I say, try and get a caring role or a job that makes you truly happy, whilst knowing from experience, this work doesn’t make people money so they don’t really see any point doing it and thus setting my kids up to struggle like I am, because I don’t ever want them to feel like this, like they are letting their own family down.  Or do I say, be selfish earn good money and suck up any crap you need to, because the money you earn will save you a lot of stress and means you can have more opportunities as a family (you may just feel a bit empty where your work is concerned, incidentally probably the place where you will spend most of your life).

As ever I will look for inspiration and guidance from all over and trust my instincts.  I keep telling myself that we just need to keep going, keep pushing and we will make it.  I hope that I am right.

Keep repeating my mantra to myself when things are hard:

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do”

Keep the faith in humans, I reckon most of us are okay and just trying to travel our own journeys.

Laters

The weekend that broke me in…

So if you remember a few blog posts back I talked bout the sexy new road bike that I treated myself to.

Well this weekend I was planning to get it out there and start to ride it,  I did, and far more than I was expecting to.

It all started with a phone call from my brother-in-law, Ewen, to say that he was stuck in traffic and that his SatNav said he would have a 2 hour wait.  He text me and told me to go on my own.  I did, I managed to get about 5 miles away when he text again to say the traffic cleared up and he was here and ready to ride.

I turned round and headed back, by the time I met him I had already done ten miles but we decided to carry on, another 12 miles later I felt pretty damn chuffed with myself I don’t mind telling you.

That night I drove to a Bryan Adams concert, It was amazing!  I left the car there and thought we could cycle there the next day to pick it up.  We did’ but it turned out to be another 20 miler and half of that was into horrendous wind.  I had to be a flakey sod on the last quarter and  sit at the back because my quads were dying.

So as you can imagine after a weekend of riding I was almost dead, a real baptism of fire. Then, (enter stage left) my mate Walshy text,  Shall we ride this week?  Turns out the best day for this was Monday evening.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

So tired I went out with Walshy.  It felt good though, bit windy at times but a pleasant ride and great company.  As you can imagine though I rested my ass off yesterday and now am stiff as a board.

So here are the journeys a total of 53.5 miles over the weekend.  I know some people do this as one journey, but hey, it’s a big deal to me.

I was wondering which cycle computer to buy, Katseyes, Garmin etc but I must say that Strava (a free app on the phone, there is a pro edition also) does everything I need and makes it super easy to share with folk, so I would say don’t bother, just make sure you have take a charger stick with you.

Loving the tech and couldn’t believe my eyes when the quickest I got up to was 28mph, ON A BIKE, if someone had told me at the time though I would have tried to squeeze another 2mph out to make it to an even 30, ha ha.

Bikes give such a good cardio workout with very little impact.  Great times.

Get a bike, get on it, ride, explore, laugh, cry & enjoy.

Love ya’s

Man, I looooooove podcasts…My top 10

It’s true, I absolutely love podcasts.  It all started a few years ago.  I have a ten year old blonde Labrador called Gus and he likes to walk, a lot.  I soon realised that this time, 4o mins to an hour a day spent walking, was valuable.  All I ever did was listen to music (on my then i-pod nano).  The thing was though, I found it really difficult listening to music at six in the morning, it felt more like a chore than anything else, and people sounded just too happy.

It was then that I discovered audio books, I spent weeks and months chewing my way through Haruki Murakami novels and classics like Anna Karenina, Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes and many, many more.

I Googled ‘best  audio books’ and it came up with an episode of the BBC’s ‘A Good Read Podcast’.  I downloaded it and listened.  Suddenly, ‘welcome to a bigger world Paul!  Where have you been?’

I got a podcast manager for my Android phone called – Podcast Addict, I haven’t looked back since.

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This is how it looks, so easy to use and makes accessing great content super easy (Apple users can just use i-Tunes, ptchhh having everything handed to you on a plate).

So here be a list of my ten….yes ten favourites.

10.  HUNT THE TRUTH

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Okay so this is a bit of my inner geekness slipping out.  Yes its a podcast about a computer game.  However it may seem geek like, but it has an amazing story set before the events of Halo 5.  How a journalist aims to search out the truth and how difficult that can be when powerful people don’t want you to.  Well worth a listen.

9. Serial Season 1

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The 2014 story of Adnan Syed, who was convicted of his girlfriends murder in 2000.  He is still in prison for this crime, but with very little evidence and conflicting accounts you will be screaming at your phone about how this is could happen.  This podcast has you hooked all the way along. The first podcast series I listened to and it is great.  If you watched Making a Murderer on Netflix, you will love it.

8. Myths and Legends Podcast

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This has to get a mention.  Jason has obviously worked tirelessly to make this show work. He draws on his love for Folklore and history to bring stories from the past back to life and into the cultural conscience once more.  Whether its the trials of Hercules or the real Little Mermaid, the stories are always interesting and entertaining. A great show.

7. Podcast Unlocked

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This is an Xbox podcast done in a chatty style discussing all news, new releases and early plays of games in the Xbox world.  A must listen if your into games, if not, erm don’t.

6. Tanis

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This is a great series by PNWS (Pacific Northwest Stories).  Nic Silver takes you on a spooky journey through the Pacific Northwest , looking for runners, speaking with Merekatnip,  following clue after clue whilst ultimately searching for TANIS.

5. The Russell Brand Podcast

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Russell Brand….Love him or hate him you do have an opinion (even if you are so cool you pretend you don’t).  I really like him and think he is just a person trying to do good, but bloody loves to show off.

This podcast has made me burst out laughing more than any other, and that looks just weird to other peeps when i’m out with the dog.  Very funny indeed.

Belly Bounce – Ling Long Ling

4. Distraction Pieces Podcast with Scroobius Pip

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Fantastic, this is a podcast I have only just stumbled upon, still loads to troll through.  He is a cool guy interviewing other cool guys.  Just fun friendly chat with really interesting folk.  An easy listen and, as we see going forward, my favourite genre of podcast.

3. THE ADAM BUXTON PODCAST

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Yep you guessed it, it’s another  chatty exploration with  a celebrity (usually comedians) where Adam just chats to them (honestly just chats, what’s that about?).  It is very funny, intelligent and charming.  Just download, sit back, listen and laugh.

2. Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast

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Or as the cool kids are calling it rhlstp.

Like the previous 2 podcasts its a chat, well I suppose this is a bit more of a show and interview.  A little more formal shall we say, as it’s recorded in front of an audience.  He’s always funny, sometimes cringe and sometimes just insulting, ha ha.  There are lots of archived shows to work your way through.  Some of my favourite interviewees so far have been, Simon Pegg, Sarah Millican, Adam Buxton, Steeve Coogan, Jon Ronson, Russell Brand and Bob Mortimer.  Listen to it NOW

1. The Black Tapes Podcast

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Another show from PNWS.  This spooky story will have you regularly checking your phone for new episodes to download.

It’s about a journalist, Alex Reagan and her search for truth form the enigmatic, Dr. Strand, the founder of the Strand Institute.  Upon discovering Strands Black Tapes Alex’s world takes a different and sometimes troubled path.  Also………..No I will let you see for yourself.  Just make sure to listen.

So there you have it, my top ten of podcasting excellence, a few more that are still great but didn’t make the cut:  The West Wing Weekly Podcast, The Truth, The Public Philosopher and The Infinite Monkey Cage.

So if you fancy a change to just listening to tunes give them a go, they are great and FREE, what have you got to lose.

Please let me know some of your favourites, I am always after new things to listen to.

To all you lovely folk

I will see you in a bit. (cheeky wink and charismatic smile)

 

The Road Less Travelled

Okay, so the title’s a bit dramatic.

I love, and have always loved cycling, however, I have only ever ridden mountain bikes “but times they are-a-changin”.  (cheers Bob)

I recently invested in a decent entry-level road bike.  I have my mate Walshy  to thank for talking me into that one (although the conversation only lasted about a minute before I was sold).

It was a snip at just £420, thanks to a Giant bike sale.  I also saved money by getting it through the Cycle to Work scheme so I get a tax discount as well.

How is it? I hear you cry……..well it’s actually great.  I love it and can see all of my wages disappearing on cycling gear already.  (Midlife crisis much).

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Here she is in all her splendour.

I have been on two rides this week, not very long or not too stressful and my backside is already complaining.  But I am enjoying it and searching around for some different organised rides to jump on.

I figure it’s a great way to get and stay healthy and  it seems like a great social investment too (not to mention it’s also a great Pokemon hunting machine).

It’s a good option if you want to get out there to improve your health and meet new people and it won’t break the bank.  If you love it you can always get a better bike later.  And don’t worry about looking silly, you won’t and people will help you get started if you ask.

There’s tonnes of advice out there.  I have just subscribed to the  GCN (Global Cycling Network) channel on Youtube and it’s packed with helpful advice and videos.

Get one, get on it and go,  you will pick it up easily, it’s just like riding a bike (chuckle to myself, at the worst pun today).

Hope to see you all out there.

Hugs and kisses to you all

 

 

When health and tech collide

So this week I have been experimenting with my new toy.  It’s a fitness tracker called a Jawbone 24 (I know, I know how late to the party am I?).

The reason I got one? well, I am naturally a dubious fellow and when a large tech organisation wants me to part with lots of pennies my inner skinflint screams NO.

However I got  a Groupon offer where I could get one of these bad boys for as little as £20.  Nice.  So I did a little research and it is very similar in performance (but the app is apparently a little better than) the Fitbit Flex.

The main reason for the price seemed to be the age.  This particular model being three years old.  So I felt it was a reasonable introduction to the world of tech aided training (or TAT for short, not sure if that’s a thing, i may just have invented it.  Am sure we can squeeze a wellbeing in there to complete my anagram.  Ha ha cheeky face).

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I’m a few days in now and  I have to say – I love it.  It’s great being able to track you steps and your sleeping patterns, although it goes into much more detail.  There is also a food tracker but that just seems like too much fuss for me.  I have set my sleeping goals at 7hr and mt step goal to 10,000.  This is great because it really does motivate you to just walk that little bit further (especially when out hunting Pokemon. #justabigbloodykid).  There is also a cool feature to add you workout and your mood so the app actually learns your patterns as it goes. I am finding the steps a little easy though, as running around after the twins is endless.  Added to that I have to take my dog Gus on two walks a day, he’s a ten yr old Labridiot, 50% Labrador and 50% Idiot.

If you are thinking of getting one I say do it you won’t be disappointed and it looks lovely too.

Stay luck you beautiful lot.

Speak soon

I need a brew, it’s been one of those days.

So today I have had all three of the little rascals to deal with.  I took my six-year-old daughter and two-year old twins to soft play.  This was my genius idea, I need to do some reading for my next Uni assignment, so I will take it with us and I can read whilst they play.  What could go wrong?  pretty much nothing.

We got there early, it was nice and quiet and all three nut cases were very excited, except their imbecile dad forgot his wallet.  So we had to turn around and go home again (twins screaming all the way, and calling me ‘A meanie’).  Twenty minutes later we were back at square one waiting to go in (this time with funds for the job).

In we get and off they go.  I started to read but soon had to get them all drinks as they came back, already red-faced and panting, they are hardcore players.

As part of my Uni work I am reading a speech about how we are responsible for each and every young persons voice to be head and appreciated.  It got me thinking of my brood and just how proud of them and lucky I am. I sometime suffer with SDS Soppy dad syndrome ha ha.

I looked back to me becoming a parent and how my life got flip-turned upside down (just like the Fresh Princes).

I remember the first time I became a dad and it was all a little overwhelming.  It was my best friend Chris who gave me some of the best advice I ever received, I will share it with you now, you lucky things.  He said, basically, ‘Ignore everyone’s advice, except his and doctors’,  he explained (with spooky accuracy) that our families were about to go crazy and we would see them more that ever before, and that they would all tell us what to do and how to do it, but that I should resist this advice and go with what I felt was right.  You will nearly always achieve the same outcomes but you will have done it your own way.  He told me to remember that I was clever strong and sensible and even after the first day there is no one on the earth that will know that baby better than me and it’s mother.

It was what I needed to hear, because, others advice is how they would do things and if you try it their way and fail, it makes you feel like a failure (pretty much our experience of trying to breast feed, but that’s for another time).  So relax think about what you want to achieve, how to achieve it and crack on, if it doesn’t work try something else that makes sense to you,  you will get there sooner or later and don’t think there is only one way to do things.  Pay attention to the baby cos they get pretty good at telling you if something is working or not.

So that’s my advice to any first time or soon to be parents out there, trust yourself and enjoy it.  Don’t ignore everyone around you, you can’t do it without them, listen to their advice but try it your way.  Let them know that when you need help you will ask, tell them the best thing they can do is support you, by just being there and listening to you (not forgetting, making you a brew and letting you go for a wee ha ha).

Good luck and good health.

As I sit here, back home and sipping my well deserved cup of tea, I will leave you with the advice I tell myself every day.  Don’t think about the destination, instead try to enjoy the journey, it will all be over before we know it.

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