Getting Active Again

So I am now “one of those people”I have started Couch to 5K ( a 9 week running programme) This won’t sound that remarkable to most people. A lot of people have exercise integrated into their lives, but it has taken me a long time to get back into it.

Spoiler: this post does not contain any before and after pictures, neither does it contain any inspirational quotes.

Why have I bothered?

I used to run when I was at School – always long distance. People thought I was mad for liking cross country but it was something I could do relatively well; running for my district and my county sometimes. But I didn’t keep the exercise up while I was at uni which was an error. I forgot the positive feeling of running and when I discovered my body wasn’t as healthy as I thought it was  in my early twenties I had kind of resigned myself, rather sadly, to never putting my trainers on again. I did yoga and the like but I didn’t really see myself as the regular gym going type.

I envied my friends who seemed to always be out on their bikes, or doing marathons and other amazing things, tracking their exercise and living by their fitbits but was never compelled to try and follow suit – seeing this level of activity as unattainable now my body decided it wanted to act as though I was an old lady. To this day, whenever I find my body struggling to do basic things I refer to it as being my old lady body or OLB for short.

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Healthy body, healthy mind?

In addition to my physical health, the prospect of going to the gym, running in public and the associated little/no make up look that often goes with it was also daunting for my mental health as well! I did try the gym for a while pre-instagram boom and anxiety had me in a state where I was convinced as soon as I left the gym people were laughing at me for even trying. I told myself that if I couldn’t do a ‘reasonable’ stint at the gym (what does that even mean?) It wasn’t worth going at all.

But here I am, almost on week 3 of ‘couch to 5K’. Going to the gym every other day, I have even having managed going running in public more than once. Week 1 I felt constantly shattered,  asking myself when I would feel like #thisgirlcan  and “I don’t sweat, I glow”. I wondered where the boundless energy associated with being healthy, could be located. But I have pushed through and I now think that doing something is better than doing nothing.

We live amidst an instagram frenzy with almost everyone on there and tons of lifestyle and fitness posts. I already notice a difference in gym goers. The guys are more muscly and the girls are leaner-more power to them but that is kind of intimidating as I kill myself on a treadmill.

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I get the impression that there is increasing pressure on young people to look good or to be living life in a certain way. I used to think the pressure was mainly on women but now I can see guys are expected to look a certain way as well. I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone who aspires to look like the instagram posts we see and is battling inner demons like the ones I have described above. I’m surprised at myself and am apprehensive that I will hit a wall sometime soon, but I’m no longer making excuses.

This post isn’t meant as a brag, I’m just happy my body is currently letting me get out of bed and more. I’m feeling a tad more positive and as though I now earn any time I choose to sit on the couch and do very little.

My next step is to make sure I couple this exercise with some decent, healthy food before/after the gym. Any tips on that would be gratefully received; @eemaalou 

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Being found by a recruiter via social media

I started to write this post around 4 months ago and never quite finished it. I thought I would try and get it posted because it’s the summer holidays and during this time some students and graduates can find its hard to keep motivated for work/job hunt/ continuing their studies. So something new and exciting happened to me recently. I was approached by an employer via twitter. OK so on the surface that might not sound that interesting or great but he contacted me solely based on my tweets. He is a well known and successful investor/business advisor who wanted to talk to me about the possibility of working for a start up he had helped establish. What followed was games of email tennis, phone calls and an eventual interview. I had to sign a NDA so I can’t really talk details but I wanted to share some lessons I learned or that were reinforced by being approached this way. I’m sharing this experience not to brag but as proof that this kind of thing DOES happen. I hope by writing this I manage to help illustrate the value of keeping an online profile up to date/appropriate. Also with employers saying that graduates aren’t ‘job ready’ when they have finished their degrees I think any little thing you can do to present yourself well to employers will help. (She says having not touched her Linkedin profile in a long time). If you don’t really know where to start a free online course might help because you never know when this kind of thing will come around.

I had to put a minion in here somewhere

Some lessons I learned/had reinforced were;

Seek advice from a close colleague or someone who has been in this situation before I did this and it was probably the best thing I could have done in preparation. It put things into perspective for me and made me feel more calm.

Be patient  For all the emails or phone calls that may come after someone has approached you- be prepared to wait. Sometimes you may have to speak to the same person more than once, or wait for international calls or wait for a reply about a solid interview date. It can be really exciting being approached out of the blue but that doesn’t mean the rest of the process will run at the same speed. Don’t be left hanging but also don’t push too hard. You may not be the only person on their call list.

“All good things come to those who wait”

Be prepared for an air of mystery…  This seemingly came from nowhere. It was sparked by a single tweet I sent. And I had kind of accepted that this project was in ‘stealth mode’ so they needed to make sure they could trust me before they would share certain info with me. I arrived at the interview knowing there were a variety of possibilities on offer so it was in fact quite hard to feel completely excited as I didn’t know what kind of thing they had in mind for me. When this opportunity didn’t work out for me (due to geography and the nature of their working environment, not for lack of skills) not knowing what particular role they had in mind for me also made it difficult for me to feel disappointed or as though I had missed out on something…

Maintain a poker face.  Going back to my previous post, don’t come across as too keen a bean, keep your cool even if you are super flattered someone plucked you out from the internet for an interview.  

Do your research Although I knew the interview would be casual I should have looked at things such as London weightings on wages. When I was pressed to pick a number as a potential wage I may have looked ill informed giving a number they could have laughed me out of the building for. The number i gave them was also unreasonable for a start up as well (wishful thinking…)

 …but hey you don’t ask you don’t get Employers who are honest with you want the same in return. No need to labour under false pretenses if you have particular expectations or needs don’t be afraid to communicate them. I’m talking working hours and pay rates, not hammocks and extra long lunch breaks though.

Make sure you’re able to ask all your questions Although I was asked if there was anything further I wanted to know and I managed to get some questions out, put them under pressure to answer everything you have in mind before you leave. I held back a little as I thought I had fudged another part of the interview and lost a bit of confidence.

Don’t be scared to send a follow up email If you forgot to ask something follow up with an email to ask about things you forgot to ask in person. Some of those things may seem fairly obvious but due to the surprising way this all came about it was harder to be rational and think of everything when I got excited to be recognised by this person. I hope this post has been useful for some people. Comment, like and follow my blog if you liked it.

So it’s been a while, I have some news

Last time I wrote a post here I had been to an interview and had been feeling very frantic. Since then I had another interview I may blog about later (I was approached via social media which some people don’t believe can happen) but first; I HAVE SOME NEWS

I have been made permanent in my position at work

After having worked here for nearly 3 years my contract has gone from fixed term to permanent. I am seriously happy. This doesn’t mean I will stay here forever and I will continue to pursue opportunities for roles I am interested in BUT it does give me some stability. For the first time since graduating 4 years ago I feel I have something sorted. I have earned this.

The latest job search actually had me feeling more stressed and anxious than usual and I think that was clear from my last post. I’d like to thank all my friends who have listened and picked me up during this tricky period.

I have yet to decide whether to keep this page up. I had started it as a means of fine tuning my skills, then to try and help students learn more about certain job titles . I also try and share the great posts I enjoy reading a lot of which are written by friends of mine. Now I find myself increasingly tempted to blog about the things I am passionate about. Which may or may not be good for my online professional profile, I have definitely shared a lot with you. But there have been work related posts too!  However I will admit I got a little bit hippy-dippy around new years. I guess what I am saying is, it’s hard to see where to go from here…

SO HELP ME OUT PLEASE, INTERNET 🙂 

If any of you feel inclined to write a comment below telling me the kind of posts you’ve read on here and found interesting/useful or which kind you think I should keep writing that would be great.  hint… click the links above if you’re not so familiar.

How can you say no to that face?

 

 

January’s lessons

I wanted my second post of the year to be about things I have realised or learned in the first month of the year. WHERE DID JANUARY GO?! I might look back on this later in the year to see whether I take heed or remember any of these lessons. Some of these may sound similar and you might think “Really? All of these things in a month?” but it’s true! A lot of these refer to specific situations I don’t feel like going into detail about but I hope they can help other people reflect about how fast time passes and how we should make the little lessons count…

A lot of this is going to sound SO hippy dippy…

New age philosophy major, I am not

 

People can surprise you

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that someone you thought you knew or perhaps someone you didn’t really know, then forgot about, can some how reappear and surprise you. I like to think I am a good judge of character but I love it when people prove me wrong…for the better I mean.  Give people a chance.

Love is blind

And people are stupid. I swear there is some kind of psychological theory that could explain why people are great at giving people advice about their relationships but when it comes to their own all logic goes out the window! (wow, did I sound angry there?) .. I am very guilty of having done this myself though soooo….

I may be quoting the fictional character House here but: “everybody lies”

Sometimes people lie for no good reason. Sometimes people lie to you and you feel like “OK, so you think I’m stupid?” but a lot of the time people lie to avoid admitting they are wrong or have made a mistake. I have to take this lesson and try and not take it personally sometimes.

Sometimes people would rather write things online than reach out to those closest to them but this can come in positive and negative forms

I have had to reassure students who are employed to help other students, that just because someone doesn’t want to meet in person doesn’t mean their messaging them online is any less valuable. Sometimes people are more articulate in the written form and sometimes people are shy. But it isn’t a reflection of the person who is there to help, or their ability.

On that note, give people a chance to grow. I can try and help but I must be patient

I can do my best to lend a hand or give advice but you can lead a horse to water…

 I am able to take awkward situations into my control and tackle difficult subjects with people I never thought I could do that with

As much as people can surprise me, I can also surprise myself in my ability to take on awkward conversations. I had to do this recently and took the time to step away from a situation that made me angry, breathe and then return to it. Taking the time to think was a great idea and definitely helped me deal with it better.

I can be positive after what feels like a long period of feeling negative

I was fairly worried when I encountered post Christmas blues recently. I thought “Really?! This is how I am going to start 2015?!” I knew the job search was looming and I got a couple of rejections early January but was able to shake it off and get on with things thanks to some great advice from my friends.

My body will sleep when it needs it, stressing about getting my 8 hours won’t help

On the theme of worrying and feeling bad my sleep hasn’t been great lately and I got myself worried that I wasn’t getting the 8 hours we’re meant to have. I know a lot of people who don’t and still function. Yes my body is rubbish and I suffer with fatigue but I need to resign myself to the fact my body will sleep when it needs it.

For every idiot you encounter there is another, awesome person who will come in and restore your faith in humanity

This sounds very similar to the first point “people can surprise you” but recently I had a conversation with someone who restored my faith in my ability to write. I have come close to closing this blog more than once and now thanks to her, I think I will try my best to keep it going as long as I can.

Be OK with not knowing all the answers, to questions or with regards to life plans / let things play out

Lots of people keep asking what I will do when my current role comes to an end. I have now officially put teaching (in Schools at least) as an option to one side and I am looking for my next opportunity. I feel a little flustered when I think about my next steps and when people ask “so what do you want to DO?” and I don’t know the answer I need to be OK with that. There is a common misconception that is ingrained into people’s minds from a young age that you need to know what you’re doing, truth it, no one does.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post – great! Apologies if it has read a little like a really bad self help book. But if you liked it maybe you’d like this book I have been flicking through. 

Communication and University Student engagement: A call for inspiration

I have said it before and I will say it again, I never thought working with students would be this challenging. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy it and minus some of the sexual health advice points this article pretty much sums up my working life 

I work with Business School students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and I regularly seek feedback from them about the way I communicate with them. I started off my role with my own student experience very much in mind when it came to trying to illicit responses from students but wanted to ensure I remained up to date (read: “down with the kids” if you must) so I have done surveys, focus groups and have spoken to students informally- always encouraging complete honesty about my approach. And I have hit a slight stumbling block.

Students have told me (each year)

We don’t have many social opportunities outside drinking and careers talks.

We don’t hear about things that are going on

We need reminders – don’t just send me 1 email to tell me about something I need at least 1 more email to remind me something is happening

Some emails we get are too long

I have now tried/heard/witnessed

I provide tea and coffee meet ups with free refreshments and sometimes we don’t have many of them attend (despite trying to work around timetables)

They have said to me and to some of my colleagues “you email us too much!” when asked for an alternative approach they have said “Could you put emails into one so we don’t get multiple messages?” but also tell me they don’t read long emails with multiple points buried in them…

The only consistent message I have from them is that if we do contact them it needs to be on email, facebook, twitter – as many channels as possible.

The automatic reaction I will get from some people reading this is that I can’t please everyone and/or I probably try too hard… but I just think it’s a shame when students don’t take up opportunities to help shape their own experience at uni. I know I didn’t make use of everything I should have while at uni and I definitely regret it.

I am very lucky that a colleague of mine has agreed to meet up for lunch next week to try and give me some inspiration and a fresh perspective on things. I know that there is no one size fits all approach   BUT if there is anyone out there who works with students; perhaps you are support staff, working in comms and marketing or in a student’s union team who could shed some light on this, I would be really grateful. Equally if you’re a student please let me know your thoughts as well.

 It’s sad that so close to Christmas I feel a certain lack of motivation…so spread the festive cheer and leave me some comments and share this post 🙂

Autumn is here: finding time to blog

I survived another batch of freshers! And Autumn is here!

It feels as though I haven’t written on here in a very long time. This is probably because the first two weeks of term have been manic. I was pleased to see a spike in my viewing figures recently after I tweaked and re-posted an entry on being a fresher. This has motivated me to keep writing this blog. I am taking on much more responsibility at work and if I thought I had lots of plates to spin before now I was in for a surprise upon returning to work after my holiday. It’s strange we spent the summer planning so much and knowing when term would start but still I was surprised when it all seemed to creep up on me when the students returned. “If you’re so busy how can you have the time to write this blog?” I hear you say and yeah, OK I can see your point but I MAKE the time because I see this as an important reflective tool.

Usually I try to impart some knowledge on people who read this blog not as an expert but as someone who thinks ‘I wish someone had told me that before I started uni/when I was a student’ this post I am doing some pondering really – I am at a cross roads, I could get all metaphorical on you here and start comparing my life to the changing colours of the leaves (can you paint with all the colours of the wind, though?)

Instead here are some thoughts/lessons I have collected after a long summer of working, a  holiday and then a return to reality with a bump as term started again.

Try to keep my cool while riding the roller coaster that is work sometimes

 

  1. Affirmation: I am only one person. I can only do so much in one day and what I don’t do today I can finish tomorrow
  2. Harsh lesson: I will have to start early and work late sometimes, this will be hard for me, for others it will be a typical day (don’t complain so loud in front of friends who live and work in London)
  3. Switching off is OK. I loved the silence while I was on holiday; no emails, no texts, no phone calls, no facebook, no twitter. Remember that feeling and switch off after work. Set an out of office and deal with it in the morning, or you will set the expectation that you can reply 24/7
  4. Deleting facebook messenger from your phone was a good idea, don’t be tempted to re install it (as number 3)
  5. One day you will have to be a total grown up, for now, that day is not today, so chill.
  6. Taking on an extra responsibility or extra projects is a positive thing, remember that when you stress out or feel anxious.
  7. People remain stupid – sigh it out and don’t get angry
  8. If people don’t listen or don’t understand repeating yourself is OK. You may have  to do this more than once.
  9. People don’t always acknowledge work or even thank you but at least you know you have played your part
  10. You may leave work and worry before going on holiday but things won’t have changed massively in 2 weeks so don’t worry, turn up, pick up and move forward.
  11. You did all your planning and work over the summer, you waited for replies and now everyone is back and suddenly wants to act. You had your timetable/pace over the summer now do your best to adjust to other people’s – within reason.
  12. Don’t beat yourself up for being tired, anxious, depressed, in pain or lacking in motivation, it will pass

One thing I have realised is that even though I have been in this role 2 years and have welcomed hundreds of students over this time they will still continue to surprise and challenge me.

Before we know it it’ll be Chri….

I am a FINALIST

Heeeey! A quick update. I have made it to the Venus Business Woman Awards Final 🙂 I am happy! Thank you to everyone who voted and shared the link and a MASSIVE thank you to the people who wrote such kind words about me and what I do – I am so happy to see my work is having the impact I had hoped for.

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I will be writing about how the evening goes… fingers crossed I come away with the award this time! Good luck to all the ladies involved!