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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

I got the job!

I am pleased to say that the wait for news is now well and truly over, as last Thursday just before I went to lunch, my Manager confirmed that I have indeed got the job. The feeling when she told me was a mixture of elation and pride - elation in that the at times unbearable situation that I have been struggling with for so long is finally over, and pride at the way in which I asked the universe for help and saw it respond, in what seems like when I stop to think about it, a remarkably short time.

I think she had known all along that the job would be mine, but wanted to give me time to mull over certain points, as like she said, it will be different to being there part time and in terms of lifestyle, will be a complete about turn - although not as complete as some may think. The main difference is that my hours will shift from the end of the day to the beginning. When you consider the amount of overtime I have done over the past year, and factor in my second job at the school, I have actually worked full time for quite lengthy periods of time throughout the year already - for almost three months at the beginning of last year, and at least six weeks throughout the summer during the main exam period. The main thing is that I will now have the stability that I need, with a reliable income and benefits to match.

She has asked me not to notify my colleagues for the moment while I wait for the official letter to arrive, and I must admit that I quite like having this secret knowledge! Because it is close to the end of our holiday year, and I still have leave to take, we have decided that I will start in an official basis at the end of February after my holiday is complete, as it just simpler all round. I may have to continue working one evening a week until 7pm to keep things ticking over in the kitchen during the evenings, until they can find a replacement, but I know this will not be permanent, and it is really par for the course.

Yesterday then I worked what will be probably turn out to be my last day at the school, invigilating 2 exams, both of which were re-takes - Sociology in the morning and General Studies in the afternoon. All went without a hitch (there was only one pupil involved in each), and it was sad in a way to say goodbye. I have come to enjoy working there and I cannot deny that in many ways it has suited me well, having that mix of working with both young and old. Both jobs in their own way do make a difference. I will also miss the other invigilators, some of whom I have come to regard as friends.

I said to the exam secretary that it may be possible for me to continue working there on an ad hoc basis maybe one day a week, and she has said she will send me details of the March exams and the next invigilaors meeting, but in reality I think I will find that I need my days off. The extra money though I must admit would be useful, especially since the Council in their wisdom overpaid some of us last summer, in my case to the tune of almost 40 hours, processing one of my claim sheets twice. Because they are so inept, they have only just got round to asking for it back - I have been told that a letter is on its way. This is a pain in some ways, and the timing is not brilliant, coming as it does just as I get a full time job, as it means that my first months wages will go on paying them back, but at least they waited until I do have the money.

I am hoping it may be possible to pay them back over a period of months, but we will have to see once the letter arrives. For the moment though my thoughts are turning once again to holidays - I am off to Lundy in three weeks time and have started to make a few preparations with regard to the purchase of wheat free food, that I as always will need to take with me. I have booked a hotel for both ends of the trip - the Travelodge in Taunton on the way out and Tiverton on the way back - it will be nice to relax into a comfy bed and a hot bath after a long day on the road. The helicopter too has been booked, so I am more or less all set.

I am also conscious of the need to make plans for the summer, as my work colleagues make plans for their own trips and the time off begins to gets booked up. To this end I have ordered a copy of a guide book to the Isle of Man, which I will devour upon its arrival, to help me ascertain how long I need to stay - 10 nights or 14. This depends on whether I decide to overnight on the Calf of Man, which I must admit would be nice (indeed, this is what got me interested in the island in the first place, from when I used to go to Fair Isle in Scotland). I have ascertained that I can fly from Gatwick for around £80 return, and that the airport is not far from Castletown where I hope to stay, so all I need to do now is read the book for ideas, look at some public transport timetables and choose a date, outside the motor racing season, which this year is from the end of May to around the middle of June.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A prayer to the universe - with some insights along the way

I have had a pretty tough time of late, waiting for a decision regarding the full time job I applied for and was interviewed for on Monday. I was told that I would probably know the outcome yesterday, but yesterday has come and gone with no word from my Manager at all, despite meetings with the Director, and today, which was my day off, has gone as well with the same lack of communication.

At times like this, the mind starts to go into overdrive imagining all sorts of scenarios and reasons as to what the delay may be about. Most of them of course have little bearing on what is really going on. Today though I had one of those ah ha moments which helped to shed light on what it is I have been feeling these past few months. I have been aware that for some time now there has been this feeling of discontent, that when I look back on things began last spring. This time last year my colleague, the one who has just left, went off sick for three months with a slipped disc, and I was asked to step in to help cover her hours and keep the home ticking over. During that time I worked more or less full time, and then when she returned to work I was dropped like a hot potato and went back to my normal part time hours. It was almost as if I had a taste of what things could be like for me if I was to go full time, and having got used to it and told myself that this might be a possibility, it was abruptly taken away. Add to the mix problems with my sister that kicked off at about that same time, a busy exam season and preparations for my first overseas trip in almost 7 years and you can see that I was under considerable stress. The last thing I needed was to be asked to undertake a distance learning course in my own time, and have the Director moaning about standards in the home having slipped, but that is exactly what I got, with no annual pay rise to boot. No wonder I felt dispirited, unseen and unheard.

I then discovered that I had been rostered to do extra work without having been asked. You can imagine then what my reaction and indeed what the reaction of any rational human being was. I was not pleased and made my feelings known. In retrospect I can see that this was not the right thing to do. It is not so much that I should not have said the things that I said, but more the way in which this was done.

You see, when you have a history of working for companies where you felt unable to express yourself and be honest about what you feel, and then find yourself working working for someone who you do feel safe enough do do this with, it tends to explode outwards. You go from one extreme to the other and like a pendulum which swings from left to right before settling int a balanced state, you need to do the same, and find appropriate ways of expressing that which is in your heart. Because I am new to all of this and have been suppressed for so long, as I have yet to learn that new way of being and so the things that I say come out in the wrong way sounding accusing when that is not the way it is meant to be. I need to find a way of honestly and openly expressing my needs without blame, but plainly and simply stating the facts as I see it, and that I am yet to learn.

It is easy to figure out why I am the way that I am, for when one has a long history of working for those who abused your trust and used you as a scapegoat for their failings and inadequacies you become afraid of stating your truth, for fear that you will not be understood and of what the repercussions will be. Several times I have ended up having to walk away from jobs because my employer would not or could not understand what it is I was trying to tell them. I do not want the same thing to happen here.

It always seems to happen that you start off on a nice even keel, with your mind clear, knowing your reasons for doing things and being where you are and somehow the mind begins to creep in creating dramas and conflicts to test your sanity and keep you on your toes. I know that I have had a lot to deal with these past few months, but I am not the only one and need to find ways of expressing what I feel and letting off steam without it affecting those relationships at work, as otherwise I may start to get a reputation as someone who is difficult and this will affect my future prospects.

I do not think this has happened yet, and my Manager and I have had several frank discussions on certain things, but she is unaware as to exactly what has happened in my past and what it is that makes me at times like this. Maybe it is time to share that information. One thing I do know is that I do deserve this job. It is the waiting and the not knowing that I hate, where like I said, the mind starts to go into overdrive imagining discussions between the different parties as to why you may not get it, and what your reaction will be. None of this helps as you end up quite possibly creating the very thing that you do not want.

This waiting period, which is also the time of the Full Moon, gives me the opportunity to focus on what I do want and to bring that into manifestation, so tomorrow when I have the opportunity I will take the bull by the horns, and if there is no news then I will ask. It is the only way to know, and after all, you know what they say, those who do not ask do not get. So tonight I say a prayer to the universe that I have done all the thinking and all the analysing that I need to, and this is truly from the depths of my heart with every fibre of my being what I desire - to work full time as part of this wonderful team that gives me the opportunity to serve and make a difference, helping my own soul to evolve in the process.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Turning dreams into reality

Well this morning, the day of my interview for that long awaited full time job, it is pouring down with rain. As I sit here at the computer I watch it cascading in rivulets down the window pane, listening to its gentle patter against the walls and the roof of our house. Rain is of course, as with the water element in general, symbolic of our emotions, so it is no surprise that my emotions on the day of this very important interview, which is in many ways (remember that I have done the same job part time now for almost 20 months) a formality, are running riot.

I don't think anyone who has not been in this position can truly understand how difficult it is for those working part time who wish for more hours, sitting at home endlessly with little to do except read, watch television and eat. There are only so many games you can play, books you can read and episodes of Jeremy Kyle you can watch before you start to go stir crazy.

The answer lies in going out into the fresh air, and while it is true that walks are free, the refreshments that you inevitably want at the end of your walk are unfortunately not. When one has little money, you need to watch those pennies. I hope that after today I will not have to watch them quite so closely as I have been. One of the things that I hope to do if I am successful (and it is still an if) is to start travelling a lot more. In my younger days before I met Coran and gave up work to write Genesis of Man, I used to travel a lot - I have been all over Europe, and seen large swathes of Canada and the Far East. In recent years I have tended to concentrate on the UK - not only is it cheaper, it also saves you the hassle of airports and foreign languages and currency. After my trip to Iceland though six months ago (is that all is is) I have bitten by the bug again.

I am hoping that this year I may be able to afford two main holidays - one to Norway and one to the Isle of Man - I suspect that the Isle of Man will be the longest one. I have started to do a little research and ascertained that I can fly from Gatwick for around £80 return. I have also found a nice hostel in the south of the island that offers rooms for £14 a night and discovered that the island has an excellent network of public transport.

As for Norway, I visited the country briefly in the early 90's when I went inter railing and have wonderful memories of those times. If I manage to go again this year, I hope to do the run from Oslo to Bergen and take the mountain railway to the little village of Flam. This is an exceedingly picturesque area, and unfortunately one of Europe's most expensive places - however, as with Iceland, there are ways and means, and being the thrifty and resourceful person that I am, I will find them.

These are for the moment though dreams, gradually coming into reality. Lets hope that another dream that I have held so long now turns into fruition this afternoon, so that these others can also do the same.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The light returns

It has felt at times in the last few months, and more so since the dark nights began at the end of October, as if I were going mad, with so much darkness, not only with regard to the time of year, but also within - reflecting as always the turn of the year. I am relieved to know then in reading the latest update from Karen Bishop, that I am not the only one to experience this, and it is in fact for those on the spiritual path, quite normal. Part of this has of course entailed releasing our own darkness, and I have experienced this in abundance also, especially with regard to work, although it has by no means been restricted to only this area of my life. There are more deaths at this time of year, and in the environment in which I work, I experience this too at first hand.

It was good then to get away for a few days last week during my five days off from work. When those lovely people at Travelodge emailed me to say they had a sale on, it was an offer too good to refuse, and Coran and I booked a room at Amesbury near Stone Henge. We had not been to the stones for a while, and it was good to take the opportunity to walk around. We were blessed with superb weather, the sun peeping out at just the right moment to take some excellent photographs. While we were there we also took the opportunity to go into Salisbury for a potter around the Abbey and of course go on to the nearby stone circle at Avebury. The energies were flying that day with some major clearing going on, and by the time we got back in the late afternoon we were both pretty much shattered. Still it was nice to have a rest from work. Unfortunately the feeling doesn't last for long, and after going back yesterday, the aches and pains have returned with a vengeance.

When I got home there was a letter waiting for me from the Manager asking me to attend an interview for the long awaited full time job tomorrow afternoon at 3pm, so it's fingers crossed that we will be able to work something out with hours to suit both parties. I am open to suggestions but fully expect that I will have to get used to the dreaded 7am starts. Actually this is probably not as bad as it sounds, and I will quickly get used to it and find that I have more energy and am a lot less tired than I was before when working part time. It is amazing how tiring doing nothing can be.

If I had any doubts that I an doing the right thing, they were dispelled this morning when the Manager came into one of the rooms I was cleaning and informed me that she had something for me, and when I opened it would explain all. She handed me an envelope which when opened revealed a lovely thank you note from the family of our lady who passed away on Christmas Day with a Marks and Spencer gift card. They really did not need to do this and it was totally unexpected, but a lovely sign of their appreciation for all our hard work and dedication. It is funny how a simple cleaning job can turn into a vocation and a symbol of how despite the darkness that I spoke of earlier, when you look for it, the world is filled with light and that as in nature, the light is beginning to return. Lets hope that this too is a symbol of what is to come tomorrow, that I get the job and the hours that I need to secure my future and continue to make a difference to the lives of those whom I serve.

Friday, 7 January 2011

In its own time

I am in a strange place at the moment, in that space between tick and tock waiting for things to happen - the thing that I am referring to is of course that full time job that became vacant a few weeks ago. I noticed on the rota last night that my colleagues leaving date has been brought forward to next Friday, January 14th, but I am still yet to hear back about my own application. I know that the Manager has a lot to deal with, and it is also true that I have not seen her, but still I want to make the transition as smooth as possible, and make my own position official as soon as possible - it is not just a question of finance after all, but also employee benefits, as pension contributions, holiday pay and all other benefits are paid on a pro rata basis according to contracted hours, taking no heed of any amount of overtime. This seems a little unfair in some ways, since when I looked back through my diary for last year, I was surprised to find that I actually worked an average of 26 hours each week as opposed to my contracted 20, and so lost out quite considerably in this way. Still, it is what it is, and with any luck all of that will soon be behind me.

The transition may not be as difficult then as my Manager may think, for I am already familiar with most aspects of the job - I will have to get used to the routine of working upstairs as well as down, but this will help me, as is it easier to pace yourself upstairs without the constant demands of piles of washing up, plus it will also enable me to get to know the residents upstairs. It has always been the case up until now that I worked downstairs, and so know those who live downstairs very well, while I hardly see many of those who live upstairs - as a result I have got far too close to some of them, and get very upset when they die. Working upstairs as well will help to balance things out, emotionally as well as physically.

I suspect the hardest part will actually be getting used to starting work at 7am - but we are halfway to spring already, with the winter solstice already behind us, and I find myself waking up early in the spring and summer months anyway. I am sure then that given a few weeks, all will be fine. The main thing is that I will finally have two proper days off each week - hallelujah. This week and next week when I have five days off has then felt like a holiday in preparation for what lies ahead. Now that my body has recovered from the worst of the flu bug, I can relax and start to enjoy this time of rest.

On Monday Coran and I are off to Amesbury for the night, for a potter around Stone Henge and Avebury which will I am sure be nice, and then it is only another month until I go to Lundy. I hope the job will be finalised by then as it will be a month by then since my colleague left, which I personally feel is quite long enough. Things will though happen in their own time and I am sure it will all work out for the best.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The Silly Book Awards for 2010

For several weeks if not months, I have been poring over a myriad of book titles, both fiction and non ficton to ascertain which if any, are worthy of awards for services rendered to man and of course womankind, by raising awareness of the human condition and the pure stupidity of the world that we live in.

Here I can finally reveal the contenders for 2010.

You Don't Have to be Mad to Work here but it Helps by Luna Tick
How to Cheat the Benefit System by Cash N Hand
A Bankers Dozen by G Reed
The Dummies Guide to Crime by Robin House
The Debt Crisis by Owen A Fortune
Honesty in Politics by Hugh Rinal
Off the Wall by Humphrey Dumpty
How to Live on Part Time Wages by Penny Pincher
The Cook that Came in from the Cold by Iced Pie
A Tail of Two Computers by Anon E Mouse
Katie Price: The Unofficial Biography by E Norma Stits
Snookered by Paul Table
Internet Whaling by I Pod
The Art of Giving by Genny Rouse (not nearly enough copies of this really excellent book were printed)
The Perfect Cuppa by T Bag

And on that note - the overall winner can be revealed (are you ready) as:

Honesty in Politics by Hugh Rinal (they are as we all know, experts at taking the piss).

Monday, 3 January 2011

I don't make New Year Resolutions ...

I don't make New Years Resolutions - not because I won't keep them, but because I have nothing that I need to resolve! I am old enough and wise enough to know that we are not here to learn harsh lessons about life and about who we are, but rather, to remember what we long ago forgot - namely that we are aspects of God in all his (or perhaps her) glory.

Life is not about doing this and doing that, but rather, life is about being - being authentic to ourselves. The only thing that matters is to enjoy life, to strive to remember who we are, and to make a difference to the lives of those whom we serve. Most of the time, I like to think that I do a pretty good job of all three, although I have my moments ...

Seriously though, all that stuff that people trot out at this time of year about losing weight, getting fit, reading more books is well and good, but does it make you a better person - no. Reading more books might, especially if one of them happens to be mine ... Seriously, those things that people like to trot out may be important to them and no doubt have great signifiance, but they are not what we are here to do - they are merely the means that some at least use to achieve those ends, they also encourage us to live in the future rather than the present by concentrating the mind on some distant goal that we have to achieve before we can be happy. For me it is all about being happy now, focussing on what I already have rather than what is lacking.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

What will the New Year bring ?

I saw in the New Year last night huddled up in bed with a hot water bottle and a bad case of flu, drenched in sweat while desperately to sleep. It is safe to say that for me, the year did not get off to a flying start. Flu is always the body's way of gaining attention, of telling you that you need to take time out to refind your balance, and considering all that has gone on since I last wrote on this blog, it is hardly surprising that my body feels the need to attract my attention in this altogether unpleasant way.

Christmas Day at work was marred by the sad but not unexpected death of one of our residents - a lady whom I was particularly fond of. She had been lingering for some time and had said on numerous occasions to not only myself but also other members of staff, that she wanted to die, so I was happy for her in some ways when the end finally came - just before 7am on Christmas Day. We tried not to let it affect the festivities for the rest of the residents and their families, but I would be lying if I said I was completely unaffected. It was hard to see her family - her daughter and son in law, whom I was very fond of and got to know very well, so upset when they came to see her later on in the morning, and there was a hairy moment when one of the other residents almost walked into her room just as the undertakers were taking her away. Not the nicest thing to have to see being wheeled in - a trolley with an empty body bag, but I suppose it goes with the job.

As with last year, Coran and I celebrated Christmas on Boxing Day, and then on Monday my sister came round ... Our relationship has been strained this year to say the least, not aided by her schizophrenia and her seeming need to ring us up at all hours of the day and night demanding that we fix her problems. Things came to a head while I was in Iceland and we were forced to have her number barred. She now has a new mobile and must have somehow got hold of our number again, and started ringing us again - that number too has been added to the barred list.

Her visit on Monday was though a disaster from start to finish - I turned up at the wrong house because she hadn't informed me that she was with her 'boyfriend', and when I finally did get there, had to wait for almost half an hour for her in his lounge in the company of a pile of over flowing ashtrays and a pile of beer cans - nice ! Once I got her home, it was obvious that she had no interest in us whatsoever, admitting openly (and these were her exact words) that she does not care whom she hurts as long as she gets what she needs. Schizophrenia or not, this girl knows exactly what she does and how to manipulate the system and other people to get what she wants. She spent more time sitting on our doorstep smoking than she did in the house, and both Coran and I found the experience really quite draining, so much so that we are re-evaluating whether we really want her in our lives at all. Coran had a long chat with her care worker after Christmas, but we are still no closer to finding a resolution.

And then the bombshell - on my return to work I discovered that finally one of the full time housekeepers is leaving - but she gave her notice in on December 17th and no one had told me ! My pain body went into overdrive imagining all sorts of scenarios and giving voice to them too - words that later came back to haunt me. I left the Manager a note asking if we could speak about it when we next saw each other and was horrified to discover that those words had been repeated back to her, which understandably made her very upset. Well, this started triggering all those feelings of rejection and isolation from my working past, and all the emotions came rushing right to the surface, raw and out there for everyone to see - and everyone did see them. It was not a pretty sight, but my application has now gone in, so for the moment, I have to wait.

When I saw the girl who is leaving on Friday, she informed me that she had asked the Manager outright whether she should let me know, but was told not to, as I would see it for myself on the rota soon enough. So much then for not deliberately hiding things from me and wanting to follow protocol, not that she would ever admit to that. The whole situation was as ever designed to get me to look once again at all that stuff which I thought was long forgotten, but with the events of Monday with my sister and the death on Christmas Day, has resulted in this severe form of overload and the need to rest and recharge my batteries.

So, today when I should been at work, most of the day was spent in bed, mulling over these various things in my mind. I wonder what the New Year will bring - the old one was not without its challenges and I suspect that 2011 will bring many more of the same, but the difference that this full time job will make and not just in terms of finances, is immeasurable. To many my reaction must have seemed over the top, but they do not understand how important this is to me and how demoralising it is for those who work part time but want to work full time. There are only so many books, television shows and computer games you can play before you start to get bored, but all of that will soon be at an end. The year may not have started on a high note, but my star is about to start rising high into the sky, and once it is up there, who knows what the year will bring.