#metoo

We are seeing floods of #metoo stories across social media – the hashtag is being used to give a sense of the sheer number of people who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. I use people instead of women very specifically because it would be a huge mistake to assume this is just happening to women. It’s also a conversation we need to have around workplace activity as so many of the situations that come up seem to be based around managers, colleagues, clients and customers putting themselves in a position of power.

Like many people I’ve been in that position although I’m pleased to say it hasn’t been for a number of years. I can give you examples of Managers who insisted I sit on the desk in front of them during workplace conversations, ‘accidental’ hotel bookings with not enough rooms, members of senior management coming into my office and locking the door behind them and many more. All of this was done by people who were in positions of power over me, over my job and over my career.

All of these instances happened when I either didn’t have anyone to talk to about it or when the people I raised it with didn’t take me seriously. I was told that the people involved were just playing or that that didn’t sound like them at all so I was probably mistaken.

Workplace sexual harassment is rife in every single industry but we can change that. By putting in place some simple changes and ways of working we can make the workplace a safe space.

  • Take people seriously when they raise concerns with you. Yes it might be a lot of trouble to investigate it and yes it might not be true but start from a position of belief and understanding. Don’t make someone who has possibly been a victim of harassment feel even more shame and awkwardness than they already do.
  • Lead by example – if you see something happening that looks like someone is being made to feel uncomfortable or victimised then call it out. Don’t just stand by. If you hear any colleagues talking about anyone in your organisation in a sexual manner then call them out on it – immediately. It takes guts to stand up to someone but you’ve just given the victim an ally which will feel like a life raft to them.
  • Think about how you talk about people – don’t introduce colleagues and staff members as ‘the lovely’, ‘the beautiful’ or ‘the handsome’. I’m sure they have some professional achievements you can introduce them with such as – ‘the bright’, ‘the ambitious’, ‘the talented’.
  • Don’t assume that because someone seems comfortable with something that means they are. We all know how to survive in our own workplaces and sometimes that means letting comments and actions slide – even if they do make you feel uncomfortable. Just because someone is laughing with you now doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling fearful, ashamed or like they don’t have a choice but to go along with it.
  • This should go without saying but it needs to be said out loud still – DO NOT LAY YOUR HANDS ON ANYONE UNLESS YOU HAVE THEIR PERMISSION FIRST. Don’t be pedantic, you know I don’t mean handshakes or passing them a cup of coffee. I’m talking about kisses to say hello, hugs to say congratulations and slapping someone on the backside if they reach down to get something they dropped. So once again here it is – DO NOT LAY YOUR HANDS ON ANYONE UNLESS YOU HAVE THEIR PERMISSION FIRST. There are many things you can do with employees – you can grant holiday, give payrises and you can sack them but their body doesn’t belong to you and your hands have no place on it.

Be an equality champion. Yes that’s a nerdy term I know but it has a place. Things in workplaces will only change if people work together to make it happen and you need to be brave to do it. If you see something happening that you feel isn’t right then call it out. If you hear someone talking about a male or female colleague in a way that seems sexual then call it out. If you see a behaviour you think doesn’t look right then call it out. It’s also just as important to have a process in place for people to report to – otherwise how does someone report unwanted behaviour from a manager when it’s the same person they are supposed to report it to in the first place? Some of my examples happened when I worked in HR departments…..who was I supposed to speak to?

Be brave. Stand up for people. Don’t let someone you know end up with their own #metoo story

World Mental Health Day

I’ve been to that dark place – that place where you feel there is no more hope, that place that feels so empty, that place where you feel like you are standing in the middle of a crowded room screaming but not one single person can hear you. 

The problem with that place is no one else can see it. No one else can see the prison you are living in so they just assume that you are a bit distant, that you’ve dropped of the radar or that you are a bit flakey as you cancel plans all the time. They can’t see you sitting on the floor hyperventilating as you worry about going out the door. They can’t see you physically shaking with fear as depression and anxiety go to town on your low self esteem, non existent confidence and make merry with every single negative thought you’ve ever had about yourself. 

It’s not like breaking a leg, getting the flu or a chest infection. You can’t get physio or antibiotics for this – there are tablets you can take and treatments you can have but you’ll always live in fear that it’ll come and take over your life at any given moment. Because that’s the thing – you never know when it will go from being a sleeping dog to a snarling, biting, growling terrifying dog determined to decimate you.

So don’t expect to be able to identify people who have mental health issues. They could be the person at the pub who always laughs, jokes and appears to be the life and soul of the party – just because that is how they present themselves that doesn’t mean they weren’t shaking with fear before they stepped out the front door.

Be kind to people. Be kind to yourself and if you are one of those people who has also stood at the edge of despair please know that I and so many others are here for you. We will catch you when you feel like falling – we are a silent community but together we are strong. Please don’t let it get the better of you – know that while there is a dark pit in front of you there are people behind you holding ladders ready to help you out.

If you feel like it is too much please call the Samaritans on 116 123, Childline on 0800 11111 or PAPYRUS on 0800 068 4141. People want to help, people want to give you support but you have to ask for it. You have to be strong and recognise you need the help.

Be kin
#worldmentalhealthday

Mr MIP saves a life (hopefully)

Once upon a time there was a man called Mr MIP who had spit that matched quite well with someone elses………. it’s an odd story and that isn’t exactly right but it’s as good as any other start I suppose.

We registered with DKMS – Delete Blood Cancer in 2013 after seeing an appeal for people to sign up to help a little girl looking for a match as she had leukemia. We were sent our packs that included an “About Me” type form and a cotton bud to wipe around our mouths. Easy peasy. So we sent the forms off and didn’t think anything else of it apart from calling them to let them know we’d moved house in 2014.

Until last year (2016) when we got a letter through the post last year saying that Mr MIP might be a match for someone. The letter contained lots of brilliant information about the process, selection and the actual donation itself.

First up he had to go for a blood test call Confirmatory Typing (CT) to rule out any infectious diseases or other blood based nasties that he wouldn’t want to pass onto anyone else which all came back clear. The results were then sent onto the patient’s doctor along with two other close matches for them to decide which set of cells would be the most suitable. That part of the process took a few months before we got the call to say Mr MIP was the best match and they’d be going ahead with the donation.

Before he could donate he needed to have a series of injections called Filgrastim which would increase the amount of blood stem cells in his body. He was warned that this was likely to be the most difficult part of the process for him personally and the bit that would come with the most discomfort. As the cells build up it’s common to feel a heavy feeling in your shoulders, chest plate and hips and also common to get insomnia.

Mr MIP was a total champ throughout the injection process – he did get that heavy feeling in his chest and the insomnia was pretty bad. He’s one of those people who falls asleep in a few seconds normally so the experience of just not being able to sleep was totally new to him. The thing is though – no matter how uncomfortable his joints felt and no matter how hard it was not to sleep for two nights it still wasn’t as bad as having leukemia so he didn’t feel like it was bad enough to say he wanted to quit!

 

Before we knew it donation day had rolled around and DKMS UK took care of everything. They made sure we had somewhere to stay, took care of all our travel and answered any other queries we had. Donations can take two days and they wanted us to have the option of an overnight stay – they also recommended having it even if the donation was done in a day as he’d likely to be tired.

He arrived, was shown to his bed and was able to make himself comfortable – donations can take up to 4-6 hours and are done via a very clever machine. A needle on one arm draws out your blood, it goes into this clever little gizmo and then is put back into your body minus the excess cells through a needle in your other arm. Mr MIP’s donation was a relatively straightforward process apart from a calcium dip at one point that made him very lightheaded but the medical team were straight on it and kept a really close eye on him.

You don’t really get to find anything out about the patient – all we know is that she’s in her 30’s and lives somewhere on Earth. That really resonated with me. At the time of donation I was 36 – that could have been me. It could easily be any of us.

After the donation life went back to normal pretty quickly – Mr MIP had some aches and pains as his body went back to it’s normal blood levels and he felt quite tired. He has always said he’d do it again without any hesitation – he describes the process as feeling like having the flu without actually having the flu.

A few days later we recieved this surprise box from DKMS as a thank you to him for being a lifesaver. I can’t even imagine what it feels like to save a life but I do know I’m immensely proud of him. We are still waiting to find out how the patient is – we’ve asked to know but the recipient isn’t obliged to tell us and that’s fine. We just hope she’s ok and well on the way to recovery – we have our fingers, eyes and toes crossed for you mystery lady.

DKMS Box

It’s quick and easy to register to be a bone marrow and blood cell donor – you can visit DKMS-UK and answer a few questions and you can also register with Anthony Nolan Trust . If you find you can’t register with one then it’s worth trying the other as they have slightly different requirements.

You could be wandering around with a possible cure for blood cancer in your body. Just think about that for a second – you might have the cure for some types of cancer. Someone out there could be waiting for you to register – you just need to sign up, get your swab sent in and wait to see if you are holding the key to a possible miracle for someone.

Please register and if you find you are a match and have questions Mr MIP is more than happy to help – drop me a line at muminpractice@gmail.com and I’ll send your message on.

 

12 weeks? No thanks…..

I need to head this up with this point of clarification – I am not pregnant, I have no intentions of being pregnant and this isn’t any form of announcement that I am pregnant. Got it? All clear?

That being said I was chatting to someone recently who is in the early stages of pregnancy and they were saying they knew they weren’t meant to tell anyone they were but they had told a couple of people already. That got me thinking back to those first few stressful months of pregnancy and how it felt to have this massive secret but be unable to tell anyone.

As it was we told immediate family at 9 weeks and a couple of our closest friends at 10 weeks as we needed help covering up my lack of drinking over the Christmas period which would have sent alarm signals out to most people who knew me!

I wasn’t really sure why I didn’t tell anyone else though and I know I felt guilty for telling the people we did because of the 12 week rule. I know the official reason is because of the risks in early pregnancy but looking back on it that seems like more of a reason to feel relaxed about telling immediate family and a handful of closest friends. These were the friends I quietly celebrated with and enjoyed sharing our precious little secret with but if something had gone wrong then these also would have been the people I would have wanted to lean on in such a hard time.

The other consideration is that those first few weeks are so overwhelming sometimes you just want to talk about your fears, your concerns and your hopes but you may feel guilty or worried about doing so before the 12 week mark is reached. You are full of crazy hormones, you might not be feeling well, you’ll certainly be feeling tired and you’ll likely just want a damn good cry so why shouldn’t you tell someone how you are feeling. Ease the pressure. Share the load.

It takes a village to raise children and that support network starts from the moment you see the lines on your test. You build your village from that very moment and that network should be there for you during the rough times and the smooth times.

So if you want to tell people then do – if you feel it’ll help you feel more supported and then just do it and to hell with tradition and reason. Parenting is complicated enough without making anything harder than it needs to be.

Once again – I am not pregnant. I just really like cake. Please don’t give me any knowing looks following this blog….it’ll just be embarrassing for both of us.

Our first family camping experience……

Before Miss MIP came along hubby and I would often spend weekends camping away – it was a quick, cheap and easy way to make the most of a weekend and we really wanted to carry on when Baby MIP arrived. Sadly it became quickly apparent that Baby MIP and sleep were not going to be the best of friends and canvas wouldn’t contain her or her noise so we put it off…..and put it off…..and put it off.

She’s now four and while her and sleep aren’t friends they are at least mild acquaintances that are willing to occasionally be in each others presence. With that in mind we dusted off our camping gear from the garage and started to get excited at the prospect of spending weekends in sunny fields again.

Our tent needed replacing as it had gone to war with high winds in Snowdonia and was utterly defeated so while we were at the Outdoor Adventure and Camping show we brought a brand new inflatable Kampa tent which looked perfect for our needs. I do love a gadget and short of having wifi or bluetooth (maybe the next one?) this tent ticked all the boxes for us.

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Then we started to look around for a small and local campsite that we could test the camping water with. We hit the jackpot with the campsite at Watercress Lodges – it was less than an hour away so easy enough to abort Mission Camp if it turned out to be a 3am disaster, family owned, excellent facilities and in a great location. The booking process was easy and with a one night stay for less than £30 for the three of us very reasonable as well.

We packed up the car with a truly stunning amount of kit and drove through the pretty Hampshire countryside to the site.

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It was smaller than I expected from the website but just perfect for what we wanted – it meant no over crowded pitches and no noise from large groups. It was in an excellent location right in front of the Watercress Line – Miss MIP ran to the front of the tent to wave at the trains every time they went past even though they couldn’t see her. The bridge just down from Ropley station was the place to be if you wanted to wave at the train drivers and get a ‘toot toot’ from them and that was less than a 3 minute walk away so great for little legs.

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The facilities on site were great – spacious hot showers, wheelchair accessible toilets and button operated doors, lots of sink space and hairdryers that were free to use.

Unicorn

Miss MIP mostly cooperated – she was very confused at going to bed when the sun was still up so I think we need to bear that in mind for next time. She woke a few times between 12:00 and 3:00 but Mr MIP and I agreed that was more because it got very cold (6c and one point) and she was waking up in an unfamiliar place. She adored the experience though – especially being able to bounce around on her space hopper without worry of cars, drinking from her special tin camping mug and wielding a mallet to get the pegs in!

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The experience also showed us how much older she is getting now – she really wanted to help out and be part of the team and enjoyed the responsibility of the ‘jobs’ we gave her.

Spending time outdoors as a family is so important to us – it gives Miss MIP the experiences that we had as children and the chance to live a bit more ‘free range’ than she is able to at home due to school, her speech therapy and constant assessments on her development. When she is running around outside it doesn’t matter that she can’t meet those targets or isn’t quite the same as some other children – she’s just a little girl playing in the sunshine with her Mummy and Daddy.

In 2017 we are going to spend more time in the outdoors as a family and I feel sure that Miss MIP will only be better for it – and so will we.

If you are looking for that first step camping I couldn’t recommend Watercress Lodges and Camping highly enough. The site is friendly, well planned out, accessible and great for both experience and novice campers. We had a great time and I can guarantee we’ll be back……and maybe in one of these snazzy safari tents they’ve got!

Safi

Details

Watercress Lodges and Camping – http://www.watercresslodges.co.uk/

Watercress Line – http://www.watercressline.co.uk/ 

Kampa Tents – https://www.kampa.co.uk/ 

Happy Camper Mugs – http://www.poundland.co.uk (brought from Petersfield store)

Unicorn Sleeping Pod – http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk

N.B – I was offered a one night stay for in return for a review of the campsite. All views and opinions are my own and I was not paid for this review

Cover photo credit – Watercress Lodges

 

I will not be afraid.

I will not be afraid. I will be proud of the people who ran to help, I will be proud of the police who reacted instantly despite a colleague being attacked, I’ll be proud of the ambulance, fire crews and security services who helped when people needed them. I’ll be so proud of the people who stayed and offered help, comfort and assistance when every instinct would have told them to run.

Don’t listen to stories of propaganda but listen to stories of people who opened their doors, people who helped and people who will not be cowed. We will not be afraid. We will not hide. We will not live in fear of what might happen.

Don’t let fear win and don’t give them the anger they need to continue to fuel the flames of fear, hatred and fury . Be kind, be helpful, be encouraging, be accepting, be open minded and be resilient.

Equality hurts no one

The sheer numbers of men, women and children taking part in #womensmarch all over the world gives me enormous hope for the future. It gives me hope that there is good in the world. It gives me hope that people can still pull together for the right cause. That people can see past race, religion and belief to stand together for something that matters to us all.

Women’s rights are human rights. There shouldn’t be men’s rights and women’s rights there should just be rights for people. The right to decide what happens to your body. The right to equal pay in the workplace. The right to not feel threatened. The right to equality and safety in the workplace, the home and in public.

I want our daughter to grow up in a world where she is offered the same jobs, wages and opportunities as men. I want her to be able to decide what (if any) birth control she chooses to take. What she wants to wear without worrying about if those clothes will make her feel unsafe. I want her to be able to assertive and authoritative in the workplace without being called bossy or a bitch. I want her not to have to choose between career or family. I want her to not ever have to be worried she can’t make her dreams come true because she’s a woman.

Although Trump isn’t my president his presidency threatens me as a woman. Because someone who can say such awful things about women has been voted in as a world leader and is now a serious contender in world politics. That man that made such vulgar, derogatory and awful comments about women is now being taken seriously and this (to some) means his comments can be taken seriously.

So well done to everyone involved. To all those marching and to all of those who want to be there but can’t be but are there in heart and spirit. I’m so so proud to call myself a feminist but make no mistake – that means I want equal rights for *everyone* not just for women. For every female plumber I want a male childcare assistant because we all have our struggles and the only way we’ll achieve them is to work together for an equal future for all.

MIP x x

Dear Nissan UK

First of all let me just say I love my Nissan Leaf – it’s everything I hoped an electric car would be and I truly love driving it. When we decided to go electric we wanted to use a well known name but also find something that would work as a family car and the Leaf has ticked all of those boxes. It’s comfortable to drive and as I have a charger at my house its convenient to charge and use – yes you have to plan any journey above 80 miles a bit better but I don’t do those kind of journeys very often. I love the fact I never have to queue at a petrol station again, I love the fact I can send it a text message and it will defrost itself on a cold morning and I love the little waves I get from other EV drivers when I go past them.

I’ve become a total convert to electric cars because of my Leaf and recently it’s safety rating was proved to me when it was in an accident. I was waiting at a crossing when someone didn’t notice I’d stopped and she hit the back of the car at high speed. Thankfully we all walked away all be it with some bumps, bruises, pain and knocks but we did all walk away which was the important thing. It was a major plus point for me to know that my Leaf could stand up to a high speed knock from a VW Golf and only have damage to the boot, bumper and boot floor.

accident

From the point it was picked up and taken to one of your approved repair centres though it hasn’t been such smooth sailing.

It landed with the garage on the 8th December and I was given the choice of either having it written off or having it repaired. Thinking that it would be easier to have it repaired I elected not to have it written off but have it fixed instead – apparently that was a mistake because it’s been nothing short of a nightmare since.

It’s been 6 weeks now and the garage haven’t been able to make a single repair to it because they are waiting for a boot floor to be delivered. It had a delivery date of the 12th January so I was hoping to have the car back next week.

I called the garage today to check on progress and it turns out the part hasn’t even been delivered and here’s the kicker…..it’s not going to be delivered for another 4 weeks.

So with delivery time and the 40 hours repair work my car needs it’s likely to be at least 12 weeks until I’ve got the car back.

At least 12 weeks of driving a diesel, 12 weeks of paying a fortune for fuel, 12 weeks of frustration and 12 weeks of talking about this utter disappointment on social media.

How can the EV community persuade others to invest in this technology when parts have a 10 week wait on them? Where are those parts even coming from? If it was made in Australia and shipped here by boat that wouldn’t take 10 weeks so where is the delay?

And as for the people who have invested in your electric vehicle technology – should it not be if your Leaf gets damaged and is being repaired at a Nissan approved centre you get another Leaf to replace it? Why are you delivery times forcing people back into dino-fuelled cars? That’s 12 weeks of me driving a diesel when I’ve made a financial and moral commitment to electric cars

I’m angry, I’m disappointed and I’m frustrated to be put in this position. Your EV drivers deserve better than this Nissan and trust me when I say we are all talking about it. In our own groups and forums, on this blogs Facebook page, on Twitter and face to face – we are all trying to act responsibly and have chosen your company to do that. You should at least repay us with a decent service and parts replacement when we need it.

In the meantime I’m wondering when I’ll get to see my car again and if I made a mistake moving to Nissan when I could have just as easily gone to VW, Renault or BMW for the same type of car. Because it’s not just about the car – it’s the service and the brand I’ve brought into as well and at the moment I feel deeply short changed.

Being kind to yourself……

To all you lovely mums and dads,
Congratulations – you made entire human being! You created a life and you likely spend all your waking hours (and probably some sleeping ones) making sure that that tiny human you grew turns into a kind, tolerant and valued person.
That doesn’t mean that you need to forget about yourself though. You are still your own person and you need to make sure you make the time to remember that. Be kind to yourself and make sure you have a moment that is just for you.
Go to a coffee shop, go for a run, go to the cinema, just sit on the sofa and do nothing, take a walk, visit a library, go for a swim – do anything but please make sure you do something that’s just for you.
It’s so easy to get lost in the world of parenting. To feel that every moment has to be dedicated to your family or your work but you as a person deserve those moments as well. You don’t need to justify it to anyone, you don’t need to be sneaky about it and you don’t need to feel selfish for wanting to do something on your own or without any children present.
You are a parent but you are still a person. No matter if your child is a month old, 5 years old, 15 years old or 30 years old – you will always want to put your children first but you can set a great example for your children is that it’s ok to be as kind to yourself as you are to others.
So today give yourself a little treat – have an extra nice coffee, a sit down even though there is washing up to be done or upgrade your seat on the commuter train back home. Take a walk on your lunch break and call that friend you’ve been meaning to get back in touch with or just enjoy a bar of chocolate all to yourself without any tiny fingers trying to take it away from you!
Be kind to yourself. You made a human but that doesn’t mean your children have to replace you.
x

Am I still relevent?

My contract is nearly finished so I’m on the job hunt again and it’s got me to thinking about my professional skills.

I’m not really sure what I do anymore – I used to work in Human Resources but that was over four years ago. I currently work as a Volunteer Coordinator but that isn’t really what I ‘do’ either and as the contract is finishing I don’t have the option to continue it even though I’d like to.

I’ve been trying to find out what my professional edge is and asking myself if I still have any value in the commercial world. I’d like to think that the first 15 working years of my life before I grew a human still hold value but looking around at the market I’m just not sure. The part time options are limited to say the least.

Maybe it’s not the skills I’ve lost but my confidence – can I still add value to a workplace and can I still be a respected professional or do I have to start right at the beginning all over again? Do I need to take my career back 15 years and start all over again to build myself back up to being regarded as a professional?

I feel like the next few months are going to be made up of interesting decisions that could have a long term impact on my career and my confidence.

I think the main question is – what if no one wants me and those 15 years were for nothing?

Then what?