My dad's had a bit of time of it this last year with his health, so we've been vey grateful to have the NHS to draw upon. I'm a huge advocate for nursing staff particulary and feel they are incredibly underpaid and undervalued by our government. We have had some amazing care and attention given to us so because of this I've been loathe to criticize the NHS.. thus far.... We've also had some pretty rubbish experiences though and every now and then it is very hard not to have a sense of humour crisis about some of the things that have happened to us. However, rather than just write a long (and it would be long) list of 'issues', instead I'll sum up in a couple of paragraphs or what I'd do if I ran the NHS!
Actually that's probably not as insignficant and facetious as it sounds. I do feel that the NHS has reached such a crisis point of probable underfunding and definite understaffing in some areas, (along with very poor deployment of staff in others), that patients very often feel that they are a nuisance and that is at least in part created from the vibe they get from the people attending to them. Many staff members are legitimately at the end of their tether, so consequently when using the service the patient senses that the staff are 'hard done by'. There's no wonder many older people don't want to 'bother their doctors'. Obviously most staff are kind, caring, down to earth, we get it and of course you should fight your corner for your family type of people, but I've also lately encountered a few of the othes who unconsiciously emit the negative vibe! There's the:
But they're relatively few and far bewteen and are countered by the:
Anyway, I''ve wittered on enough. For anyone who knows me, I guess it makes a change from listening to me spout about what I'd do if I was in charge of education! (By the way, I know my comments are naive and it's not really that easy to fix the greatest free medical service in the world, but I'm trying to fulfil my June challenge of not overworrying and analysing!) But just to finish . did I mention that THERE IS A HUGE MAJORITY OF WONDERFUL HEALTH CARE WORKERS WHO DO WONDERFUL WORK in the NHS. (Bother, think I've just failed my June challenge!) I do like to be fair though. If I did rule the NHS I would definitely give 'those wonderfully caring and nurting vocational types' a 100% payrise. I'm sure the Bankers' bonsues would cover it! Is the NHS Nifty, Healing and Successful? Well I'd like to think it would be if I ruled the world!
I've just discovered Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfections, which I'm listening to as an audio book whilst I swim. It makes a very welcome change to Haruki Murakami's Killing Commandatore which I've recently finished. It wasn't that Killing Commandatore wasn't interesting to listen to, but at 700 plus pages, I think I could have swum to Thailand in the time it took to get through it!
Anyway, Brene Brown's text is a very different type of book. It's non-fiction self-help and explores the obstacles to happiness and how to be courageous in facing our imperfections and making connections (or something like that anyway!). I haven't listened to much yet, but so far there is lots to be interested in and to enjoy. It too might be better to read a print version of (a friend mentioned, quite often within it, you want to pause and reflect on how her observations resonate personally) as by the time I've finished my swim I can't always bring to mind what Brene Brown has said (perhaps my 50 year sieve for a brain), but one comment she made did get me thinking.
She commented on how in restaurants kids spend loads of time on their 'screens' when instead the family could be making connections. It was, I think a fairly insignifcant remark and I get the feeling that Brene Brown would be very open to discussing this, but I'm not sure if I agree or not.
I do get the whole thing about screen time and how it restricts conversation, but I can't help just being a little bit defensive about using screens too. I think any kind of 'babysitter' at meals can be a very good thing. When my own girls were young screens were still in their infancy - the most hi-tech phone was a brick like Nokia and a gameboy was a luxury item - so we took crayons and a colouring book everywhere we went. Rather than being criitcised for bringing something to occupy the kids with us, we used to get praised for the foresight in doing so. This is different to parents today who are criticised and berated for giving kids tablets or phones to occupy them.
I've been trying to figure out the difference between screens and colouring and why one is deemed ok and the other isn't.
The colouring argument:
The screen argument:
Therefore according to this it seems screens might come out on top. (I'm fairly sure I haven't created this bias simply because of my own ridiculously high daily screen time consumption, as reported to me by my trusty I-phone!)
Actually, if I had to comment on what I think the very best 'babysitter for kids' is I'd say engaging with books (even for pre-readers). Of course this does require some independence, but then so does colouring and using screens. I think it always makes sense to have a pile of books in the back of the car or in a bag at all times when out with kids. Anyone who knows me though will know that a book is my answer to pretty much everything! Stories can be accessed on screen of course, but there is nothing like the tactile feel of a printed book!
As we have been talking about crayons the following picture books spring to mind to include in that pile in the car: Drew Daywalt's and Oliver Jeffer's The Day the Crayons Quit and the Day the Crayons Came Home.They're both lovely stories with a strong moral, plenty to discuss and plenty of humour too. And, whilst I am definitely not putting myself up there with the likes of Jeffers I guess as we are talking about screens or otherwise then I'll give my own story 'The Day the Wi-Fi Broke' a mention. It is available on Kindle and hard copy too, not that I'm sitting on the fence! It really does work well for exploring balance in the use of computers and the kids I've read it with have loved it. I figure it's ok to give myelf a little pat on the back from time time. If I don't then who else will and I'm sure Brene Brown would approve :).
I’ve set myself a challenge, it’s nothing to do with diets or exercise or quantities of books devoured. … read on and see if you’d care to join me.
I was talking to some friends the other day and we unearthed a very similar pattern of behaviour amongst us. It came as a surprise that we have set of similar core traits in how we conduct ourselves, as my perception of our characters is that we are all quite different. Consequently, I wouldn’t have expected it. To a greater or lesser extent we all had the following in common:
We all fight this instinct and do make strong decisions. We stick to our guns and lead effectively in both our professional and personal lives, but it comes at some personal cost.
I feel like I have ‘superpowers’ in these traits and can take them to extremes. If I know I’ve upset someone and I’m in the wrong (admittedly seldom-kidding!) I can really ‘overdo’ making amends and live the regret for ages. Even when I’m sure that I am right I still find any kind of conflict upsetting. Over, the years, I’ve fretted over how I can choose to not follow someone’s advice or seem ungrateful for it without giving offence to them. In addtion, I’ve spent way too much of my professional life circumventing conflict and wording tactful emails to reach a desired goal. I guess that could be seen as a positive, but it would be so much easier to just be direct.
I have been pondering if these are traits more likely to be found in women of my age than men? Or I wonder if similar traits are always likely to be found amongst a group of friends because similar types flock together? What do you think ?
I think that I think many women of my generation tend to feel this way because as girls we were taught to be polite and amenable. This behaviour is praised, so even though I’m a fully fledged 50 year old it is hard to make waves. I will, but I don’t like to do so, Then, because of this, for many of us our first reaction is to be a ‘pleaser’. Also, perhaps part and parcel of being amenable and a pleaser is presenting as relaxed and chilled and easy going. Therefore it is easy to defer to someone presenting a strong personality.
This all bothers me. I don't want to confirm so neatly to generational expections! so I’ve decided it is a good time to fight the ‘pleaser within and put away my paper-thin skin. As such these are my June targets:
(As an aside, I just shared the content of this blog post with Saint Mick. His response was "so in other words you’re going to be a bloke for a month!")
I'll choose to ignore that, it sounded facetious and the first productive thing I will go do is get a cup of coffee and a piece of carrot cake. This is going to be tough for me - the challenge, not eating the carrot cake, that will be easy!
If you are a pleaser too do you care to join me…?
An unexpected treat read.
I probably chose this book because as a listener to the Older and Wider podcast, more than anything else, I was curious about the author. I was doubtful whether a stand-up-comedian could really write good fiction and wondered whether Jenny Eclair was just cashing in on her name. Cynic that I am! The answer is that that Eclair is an excellent author.
I also guess I chose it because it was cheap - only 99p on Kindle!
Moving was an excellent book, well written with a tightly plotted storyline. It addresses many of the social issues of late twentieth century UK with both warmth and humour. Addressing issues associated with 'yuppiedom', politics and the original 'entitled' generation, the story line moves towards a moderately hopeful yet pretty realistic conclusion.
The book does end quite abruptly, with me continuing to flick the pages on my kindle to check whether there was more to come, but the structure drew it effectively to its conclusion. It reminded me just a little bit of Barbara Kingsolver's 'Unsheltered' as both books use houses and setting to evoke most of the atmosphere in their stories. Kingsolver, would, I guess, be viewed as a far more literary text (what makes a literary text anyway?), but which did I enjoy the most? I'd have to say, surprisingly, this one. Having said that I did admire Unsheltered too, and reviewed it on Goodreads. It was just a bit long and slow to get into!
Elcair's novel was immediately attention grabbing and a a page turner. All in all it's an excellent read, not highbrow but accessible and full of merit. If you are looking for summer reads, I definitely recommend it.
For me, listening to the podcast and thus feeling I know a little something, at least about the author added positively to the reading experience. ("To what extent can an author ever be separated from their writing. Discuss?") It's time I stopped framing essay questions, left school behind and focused on something else. Oh Lordy, I sense a podcast on 'if only we could all be podcasters' coming on!
Last night I had the most horrible dream. The type of dream that isn’t at all subtle and brings all your worries to the surface. It actually woke me up crying, which is really weird as I’m not much of a crier! I can’t say that I’m not prone to the odd tantrum and door slamming episode when I’m not getting my own way, but most of the time, I and the rest of my family have a more ‘British stiff upper lip, let’s get on with things the best we can’ approach to life.
Why do we cry?
I think when I do resort to tears it is more likely to be through frustration than anything else. They, whoever they are, say women at work must be professional and never cry, however it isn’t always possible to rein in emotions. I remember a couple of years ago feeling so frustrated that a very poorly colleague and friend of mine wasn’t getting a fair deal at work. Ironically it was only when angry tears leaked out that things started to happen to improve her situation. It seems tears can be powerful. Whilst I am opposed to pretty much everything Theresa May stands for, I still felt sorry for her as she struggled to contain her emotions as she stood outside Number 10 the other day. Tears also seem to be a trigger for sympathy and empathy.
Revealing our prejudices
Reflecting on how we respond to tears is I think, quite revealing, though having just done so, I’ve realised it doesn’t necessarily show us in the best of lights. For me, I think it has, once again made me realise just what a sexist feminist I actually am! Recently I have:
A lot of our response to tears is probably at an unconscious level, but I wonder how many of us can actually ‘turn on the tears’ or use them to our advantage. I wouldn’t say I’m good at this, but there have been occasions, even recently when I’ve known crying will lessen the negative consequences of a situation. For example, when I recently crashed the car the other driver was far more sympathetic than he might have been once he saw a middle aged woman with a wobbly lip emerge from the other vehicle! I’ve got a feeling that women do manipulate tears far more than men because it is seen as acceptable to do so. I’m trying to figure out what the parallel for men is.
Crying is a good thing
We mustn’t forget the good side to tears:
The emphasis of young people on improving mental health and encouraging boys and girls to cry from a young age has got to be a positive. I wonder though if all teachers and parents have really caught up with this concept. I very much suspect in homes and classrooms across the world right now boys are being tussled out of their tears with rough play as girls are being cuddled out of theirs. I might be wrong, of course, but it is interesting to consider how we do treat young children differently. This study shows how gender stereotyping in managing tears starts at as young as three years old.
There is nothing better than a cathartic cry at a good book and who can deny the benefits of a proud mum’s tears at a school concert. I’ve got a feeling my own kids might actually judge my level of pride at their success on whether the waterworks get turned on or not. Betsy asked me if I cried at her IB graduation and seemed slightly perturbed that I did not! Looking at language for a moment, what an interesting phrase ‘turning on the water works is. I can’t quite figure out if it is negative or not.
I recently felt pretty close to tears when a very successful blogger and influencer, Middle Aged Mamma, mentioned me in her own blog. Check it out here. I’m not sure if my tears would have been 50-something hormone driven, or just sheer gratitude led. As there was no one else there around I guess I can’t be accused of trying to manipulate my audience!
Anyway, next time you’re driven to tears, or perhaps after they’ve dried up, why not take a moment to analyse what they reveal about yourself. The result might just suprise you!