I’m a sucker for a self-help book.

I have a big stack of them at home and generally I find the messages really positive, if not exactly life-changing. I dip into them every so often as a reminder to do the basic stuff like think positive thoughts and let go of negative emotions. It’s a bit like having a session with a life coach, only cheaper. A lot of it is the same – love yourself, forgive others, embrace fear – nothing revolutionary, but nothing controversial either.

That’s what I thought at least, until I got to a particular paragraph in my latest read, a Christmas present that I put on my Amazon wish list because I do quite want to be a badass and live an awesome life. 

You are a badass

I was over half way through the book and I’d not come across anything I disagreed with, apart from the God references, but I just ignore those. I may not be a God fan but each to their own. There was one particular paragraph though that I couldn’t ignore.

It was a paragraph in a section about the stories we tell ourselves and how they hold us back. Some examples included seeing yourself as the sort of person who always fails at relationships, or who is bad with money. There aren’t really no decent men out there, but we kind of fool ourselves into believing it so we don’t have to blame ourselves when it goes wrong. 

Sure, I get that.

But then…

‘We pretty much don’t ever do anything that we don’t benefit from in some way…’ says Jen Sincero. ‘If you’re perpetuating something dismal in your life because of some dopey story, there’s definitely something about it that you’re getting off on.

‘Let’s say, for example, that your story is that you’re depressed. Chances are pretty good that even though it feels awful, when you feel awful you don’t have to work hard or do the laundry or go to the gym. It feels very familiar and cosy and comfortable. It gets you attention. People come in and check on you and sometimes bring you food. It allows you to not try too hard…’

Um, hello?!

Depression is not a spa Jen Sincero. View Post

I had an email this morning.

(I had more than one obviously, but I had this one in particular.)

It started like this:

‘Hi Jo, Happy Hump Day!’

NO.

No no no no.

HAPPY HUMP DAY?!

Hump Day is just not a real thing. And even if it was, it’s not something you begin an email with, as though it’s Christmas or my birthday or something. Why can’t a Wednesday just be a Wednesday? Why do we feel the need to turn everything into an irritating meme??

The very worst possible combination for me is when it’s combined with the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ slogan, which seems to have been applied to everything in the entire world now. 

keep calm it's hump day

(This had better not get shared. I made it for ironic purposes.)

I actually quite like my job, and Wednesday for me isn’t some kind of amazing pinnacle. I don’t feel the need to measure my week by how many days there are left until I can get drunk or go to a shopping centre and spend all the money I earned in the job I hate on tat that I don’t need. 

And more to the point, even if I did, I wouldn’t give Wednesday a name, and attach it to a comedy picture of a camel, and go around wishing my colleagues a ‘happy Hump Day’ like some kind of loon. I wonder if the writer of the email would ever consider using the expression in real life? I’m imagining him turning up to a meeting with a new client:

‘Hi there,’ he says, shaking hands and holding up a picture of a camel, ‘I’m Gavin, great to meet you, and happy Hump Day!’

Sounds stupid doesn’t it? 

Hump Day.

Not a thing.

The end.

Okay, I know I normally do short rants, but there is just so much to say on the subject of flexible working isn’t there? Plus I want to talk to you about the Hire Me My Way campaign for more part-time and flexible jobs, and I have a personal story from another blogger to share, so all in all it’s a pretty jam-packed post.

You lucky things!

When you stop to think about ‘work’ as a concept, it’s crazy really. Let’s take your basic office job. A 9am start maybe? An hour for lunch, and then home in time for Pointless and some fish fingers and chips. For starters, the whole idea of everyone going to work and going home at the same time is madness. It’s not wonder we have traffic problems is it?! I mean, who came up with that?! ‘Oh yeah, I know, it would be GREAT if we had everyone try to travel to and from work at the same time everyday! Wouldn’t that be AWESOME?’

No, it’s not awesome.

And then you’ve got the whole productivity issue. All of the research, like this, says that flexible working increases productivity, that when we trust our staff to work from home, or to work compressed hours, or whatever it might be, that we get more out of them. So why are so many employers still so scared to embrace flexible working?

Do they not trust us? Do they imagine that the minute they’re not looking, everyone will just be at home playing on Facebook? Because I hate to break it to you bosses, but there are plenty of people sat at their desks right now sneaking a look at Facebook – keeping them locked in an office for set hours every day isn’t going to solve that.

flexible working campaign hire me my way View Post

I like gin as much as the next self-employed mother of two. It’s ace. Some ice, a good splash of decent tonic water. Boom. Job done. Some gins might taste a little nicer than others; personally I find it hard to tell the difference unless it’s Asda basics or something like that. Gin is gin. 

I was having a browse through a Christmas gift guide in a newspaper at the weekend though, and saw at advert for Silent Pool gin. I’ve never had it before and I’m sure it’s very delicious, so apologies to Silent Pool as this is nothing personal.

BUT.

There was something on the bottle that really wound me up. This gin is not just any old gin you see, this gin is ‘intricately realised’ and distilled from grain ‘precisely crafted’ in England.

Ooooh!

silent pool gin

Jesus Christ.

Intricately realised?? What does that mean? It was complicated to make?! You took a bit of care over your ingredients? Good! I didn’t expect gin would be easy to knock together, or we’d all be making our own wouldn’t we?!

It seems there is a trend that has developed over the last year or two for all of the best things to be hand crafted, by authentic, artisan makers, who live just to make the very best whatever it is that they can possibly make. At the weekends they retreat to the woods to carve spoons and nibble their hand crafted, organic quinoa biscuits because they are just so bloody precious they can’t just eat a Jaffa cake and watch TV like a normal person. View Post

Today when I got home it was cold and rainy. I went inside, (after tweeting a picture of the scary mushrooms growing outside my house), and put the heating on.

I went upstairs and put on an extra jumper and my slippers. Cosy.

I came back down and popped the kettle on. While it boiled, I lit a couple of candles. Then I made myself a cup of tea. I took it over to the sofa, my hands wrapped around it for warmth, and pulled a blanket over my knees while the room warmed up.

the art of Hygge

I did these things because I am a NORMAL HUMAN BEING WHO KNOWS HOW TO LIVE NORMALLY. View Post

It’s half term this week, so when Belle was up and dressed – around 3pm – she walked into town to meet me at my office and we went for a mooch around the shops. First on her list was Boots to look at the make up. Specifically the pigments. 

(Don’t even get me started on pigments. Belle goes on about them all the time and I don’t even know what it means.)

My eye was caught by a display of products to help the discerning girl about town with her ‘contouring’. In case you don’t know, contouring is essentially painting your face strategically to try to change its shape e.g. giving yourself fake cheekbones. As far as I can gather it’s basically make up to try to make you look thinner.

I have two issues with contouring.

Firstly, who is it, telling our beautiful young daughters that they need to spend money on brown creams and powders to paint fake shadows on their faces?! What’s wrong with women’s faces as they are? I mean seriously, WT actual F? Make-up is a weird enough concept as it is, and not something I feel especially comfortable with, but at least you can sort of justify that as just experimenting with colour or something. Contouring seems to be saying ‘er yeah, your whole face is just wrong. You might just want to change its shape?’

NOT COOL.

Secondly, regardless of the moral issues, it looks stupid.

This is a photo I took of the display that caught my eye. It’s poor quality as far as photography goes, but you get the point:

contouring

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but this is what I see:

Top left, the before picture – normal, pretty young woman, already wearing plenty of make up but looking perfectly normal.

Bottom right, the after picture – weird blow up doll.

If you look at the top right picture, you can see the essence of contouring. Contouring is saying ‘your nose is too wide, your forehead is too high, your cheeks are too fat, your chin is too wide and your cheekbones are not defined enough.’

Seriously guys! What is going on?!

Is it just me that thinks this whole trend is messed up??

I came downstairs on Monday morning, while Belle was getting dressed for school, to the usual collection of breakfast debris. For some reason, she seems to be under the impression that she lives in a cafe, and so every morning is a dilemma – do I ask her to tidy up after herself, and face her teenage wrath, or just do it myself and live in peace?

On Monday morning though, I didn’t come down to the usual sticky peanut butter knife or empty cereal bowl. On Monday I came downstairs to find an empty packet of bacon and tomato ketchup flavour crisps on the sofa. 

teenage fussy eater

I was feeling brave, so I decided to confront her.

“You know it’s not okay to eat crisps for breakfast don’t you?” I said, ducking down behind the table. (Metaphorically.)

“But they were bacon flavour,” she said.

?

“So it counts as breakfast,” she clarified.

Ah right. Well that’s fine then. 

Now the issue I have is that I’m actually quite fond of Belle, and don’t want her to get rickets or any other weird vitamin deficiency, but once a child gets to 14, how exactly are you meant to make them do things? This applies generally to be honest, but with food in particular, how are you actually, physically, meant to get them to eat sensible things?! I’d hoped that as she got older, she’d grow out of her fussy eating habits, and be happy to at least be in the same room as a courgette, but if anything it’s getting worse. She used to tolerate peas for instance, but even they have seemed to have slipped on to her ‘don’t make me eat that or I’ll gag’ list.

So how do you do it?

I provide her with a range of tasty options and I encourage her to try new things. I don’t especially want to never have treats in the house, (I like treats), but even if I did resort to that, at 14 she is quite capable of just stopping at the shop on her way home and buying her own crisps. Where has my authority gone?

(More to the point, was it ever there in the first place?)

I just want to be a good parent, or at least the sort that you don’t feel the need to report to anyone, but apart from holding Belle down and stuffing her cheeks with kale, how do I make her eat good things?

Photo – Only Fabrizio/shutterstock