Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Get Lucky

I went back to my old college (BCoT, since you ask) yesterday to deliver a talk on how choosing to go back into education after a shaky finish at secondary school gave me a second crack of the whip and most certainly changed my life for the better.

*Nervous face*

It was an important event for me, so much so that in the weeks leading up to it I slept fitfully amidst dreams of failure, and the adrenalin rush caused by facing eighty automotive students during the first session made my heart pound.  I tried to break the ice with a joke centred around Pixie's 'What Goes Boom' (my heart - geddit?), but it was like holding a match to the Antarctic as twenty-year-old students evidently do not listen to Pixies.....  The second round, with a group of thirty hair and beauty students fared a little better thanks to the sharing of snacks (as they informed me: "sharing is caring"), and a bit of coaching from my host who is possibly only known to some of the students as 'Learner Engagement', but who I found to be a talented artist with an incredibly moving and motivational story - but I'll leave that for her to tell.

Happily I didn't make any more music-based faux pas' and discovered that the video for 'Infinity' by Guru Josh c.1990 despite holding great fashion comedy value, (gold hareem pants and bare chests for the men - nice) will still cause impromptu 'arms in the air' dancing.  I also discovered that when you follow that video with the statement that 1990 was also the year one of your parents died, an audience will sit up and listen.

A lecturer during one of the talks asked whether the good things that have happened in my life were down to luck or conscious decision making and I guess that it's a combination of the two. I didn't want a teenage pregnancy so I took contraception - I was lucky that it was effective.  I didn't want to be skint so I chose to go to work - I was lucky to find a job straight away.  I didn't want to be asked every day of my working life why baking potatoes are priced differently to normal potatoes so I went back to college - I was lucky to be born in a country where that college education is free.  I wanted to pursue a corporate career and continue it after having children - I was lucky to meet and marry a man who doesn't expect his wife to stay at home.

Photo credit: www.outdoorlife.com 
And so it goes on.  A little luck but a lot of conscious decision making and a lot of seeking out opportunity.  Originally I likened it to a cat going after a laser beam before then realising that the cat never catches the beam, so perhaps it's more accurate to say I'm like a dog in a field full of interesting smells.  I am constantly darting around, seeking out new opportunities to improve, collaborate, try new things and progress.  And like the dog chasing the scent, sometimes I run into things and bang my head, sometimes I find the trail doesn't go where I thought it would, and sometimes I become so focused on the possible opportunity that I miss paying attention to the bigger picture and have to be shouted at until I return like "FENTON!", but every now and then the trail leads to something truly brilliant which causes me to bound around in joyous delight.  With a constant pull between getting on with the job in hand and chasing those opportunities it's a difficult balance to maintain.  Life is good, so perhaps I should just enjoy things as they are and be grateful for what I have, I'm certain my family sometimes wishes I would.  But the passing of so many friends and relatives at a young age reminds me that life can be incredibly, shockingly short, and so I plan to cram as much experience and opportunity into whatever time I have.  For as long as I'm here, I'm going to chase those trails, I'm going to work hard on getting lucky.

Soundtrack: Get Lucky - Daft Punk

Monday, 6 January 2014

Some Things Will Never Change

This morning we were onto a winner.  Time spent preparing last night meant that book bags, PE bags and laptop bags were neatly lined in the hall.  I KNEW where my keys were, which is as rare an occurrence for me as seeing a shooting star, and the children's school uniforms were all clean and ready.  

I sailed through traffic on the way to my meeting, singing along loudly to the radio and revelling in the freedom of finally being let out of the Christmas-shaped cage that was becoming less and less appealing as the school holidays went on (I love watching Elf, eating until I am full from stomach to throat, playing games and drinking port in the middle of the day as much as the next person but seriously, we were all in need of some personal space).  I got to my destination early, caught up with some great friends and colleagues and managed to leave with them the box of festive Fox's biscuits that I had been itching to get out of the kitchen cupboard for fear of tearing them open and adding an inch to my waistline in one sitting.

The children went straight to a friend's house after school which meant there was no demented rush to get back in time and there was peace and quiet in the house when I got home.  Bliss.  I packed the kids' swimming kits, put the bags in the back of my car (oh how prepared, how very organised!), sauntered over to my friend's house to pick up the children, had a nice chat and then actually enjoyed the drive to the pool as the children were, for once, not trying to throttle each other over who sat in which seat.  'I can do this!  I really can do this!' I thought to myself as I led the children to get changed.  And then I realised in all of my blissed out 'I'm so organised' state I had forgotten two things:

1. Velcro is not your friend.  Especially when it comes to your children's school shoes coming into contact with your tights.  Massive ladder, no spare tights and I end up rocking the 'middle aged punk' look.  In a bad way.

2. A swimming hat and a pair of goggles is not enough clothing for the swimming pool - I had forgotten my daughters costume. 

As there was no time to drive all the way home and back again, and you can't (like in PE) do swimming 'in your vest and pants', I let the lovely lady at the swimming pool enjoy watching me vainly search through the contents of two swimming bags on my hands and knees in my snagged tights before giving in and allowing her to sell me a new one.  My daughter was very pleased and I was put back in my rightful place: one of disarray, general confusion and cocking things up.  Ah well, there's always next year....

 Soundtrack: The Way It Is - Bruce Hornsby and the Range