Counselling isn’t just rehashing childhood

Counselling isn’t something that people massively talk about, outside of Instagram anyway. I’ve had different forms of counselling at different times in my life and this week had my last of 16 sessions. Due to school holidays, my counsellor being ill and general busyness, those 16 sessions have stretched out over 6 months.

I was told that the counsellor I’d be seeing was relationship based and would look at my relationships with others, which I guess we’ve done. What I wasn’t told about was how goal-based it would be about changing patterns and behaviours. I thought that, given my relationship with my family can be described as ‘complicated’, we would have a whole load of time where my counsellor would want to talk about family and childhood. Turns out she didn’t.

Perhaps 36 is the age where we appreciate that our core values are set in our childhoods but our relationship with family members is not what defines us. This totally became apparent when, in session 5, my counsellor said ‘5 sessions in and I was wondering if you were ever going to mention that you were a twin?’ Oooops. I actually have a great relationship with my bro, just didn’t feel the need to bring him into the sessions with me.

Or it could be that I’m from a large, blended family where there are lots of re-marriages, step-parents and oh so many children, that every time I reference a family member, my counsellor reaches for her notes and has to clarify who everyone is.

The upshot is, goal setting worked. Ok I typically left everything until the last minute and feel that I’ve scraped in with my goals but the skin of my teeth. We did a (weird) test that I hadn’t remembered doing when I started – apparently they do it at the beginning and end to measure how well you’ve done? whether it’s worked? I don’t know, but my scores had shifted, my counsellor looked pleased and it’s been a really great experience. I’m just wondering what the hell I’m going to do with my Friday mornings now they’ll have a big, counselling shaped hole in them and whether the long suffering partner will have to find something to do on Friday nights so I don’t chatter at him in place of counselling.

Early Starts can be great

I know I wrote about this recently in mornings are my best time of day. But this week’s thought is slightly different. Last week I wrote about valuing time and if I didn’t value my own time, how could I expect anyone else to?

With a lot of encouragement from my partner and a couple of ‘stop whinging’ from my friends, I took the bull by the horns and decided to block out large chunks of my time just for work. It meant saying no to a lot of friends and leaving messages unanswered. Luckily my friends are fab at acknowledging that with a family of 5, a criminal dog and crazy cat, getting my life together and managing my time can be a little low on the list.

This week rather than totally drop off the radar and by happy coincidence that my partner was on early shift all week meaning we all had to be up at 6am, I managed to fit in a breakfast date with one of my besties. All I can say is……. try it! She pitched up at 8:15am, we had bagels and coffee, a lovely catch up and I was still at my desk, ready to work by 9:15. It was a great way to start the day.

Building flat pack furniture is not for the faint hearted

Neither is trying to offload the old furniture on Gumtree but that’s a story for another day and when the blimming stuff has gone from the garage. Or at least festered there for a few months before we give in, need the space for more rubbish, and take it to the dump.

I’ve always been a bit of a whizz with DIY. A combination of impatience at wanting a room to be finished, lack of funds for a handyman (or woman) and my Dad realising that I would call him at 11pm to find out how to put up a shelf, means that when I moved into this house 15 years ago, he taught me all I needed to know.

What I’ve also learned in the last 15 years is that I like to drink wine on the sofa, write my 5 things list and leave DIY to the long suffering partner. Unfortunately for him, after a full 9 hours at work, 6am start and with 3 bored children in the house, he was tasked with building our bed. All seemed to be going well, my role was to police the children, shout random words of encouragement up the stairs periodically and not wince when I heard deafening bangs. A mere 3 and a half hours later, with everyone in very bad moods, the bed was built and the flat pack nightmare was over.

The next day I decided to confess that I am really good at DIY and got (most of) the rest of the furniture built while he was at work. The upshot is, the house is looking great and hopefully our flatpack days are behind us….. until the next time we visit Ikea and I find something shiny and new that would look so great in the house. Hopefully the gumtree experience (getting rid of whatever we replace) will keep the next flat pack nightmare at bay. For now.

Being local can be a great starting point for your business

Starting your own business can be a tricky time. You have the logistics of not being in an office every day, having to manage financially and do all your own marketing whilst working with clients. On top of that, working from home means that there’s always laundry to do, calls to be answered and finding more inventive ways of saying ‘no’ to being signed up to daytime school events.

Networking can be a brilliant way of getting clients but it only works if the time for networking works for you. As a single Mum, I can’t just leave the kids to fend for themselves while I head off to breakfast networking meetings. Nor can I make the evening events. This is where Social Media platforms like Facebook really come into their own.

A year ago I was added to a local Facebook group for people with their own businesses. In this group I have found a solid bunch of people with just about every skill imaginable. Working with them has been a pleasure and the beauty of it being a local group is that I know I don’t have to schedule in too much time for traveling to and from meetings. A quick trip to the coffee shop down the road, a two hour meeting and we have our work set for the week. 

Another joy about this group is that there are some really interesting businesses and because they’re small, independent outfits, the customer service is brilliant. Earlier this year I decided to shop using more small brands and less Amazon Prime. You’ll know from this list, that I’m really happy with that decision. Add in that the people I’m working with and in some cases, shopping from, are local, means that a quick meet up is all it takes to mean that they have a customer for life with me.

Getting the dog released from police custody was less challenging than I thought

A few people have been asking what happened with Stitch and why he was in police custody in the first place. The long and the short of it is, he was being looked after by friends and growled/snapped at a child in the playground they took him to. An overreaction from the child’s parents meant that the police were called and Stitch was seized without any evidence. The police I dealt with were very nice but it soon became apparent that no-one really knew what they were doing or what the correct procedures were. After 6 days of to-ing and fro-ing and without any further progress or a return date for Stitch, one of the police confessed that when they seized him they didn’t know the correct policies or procedures.

A few well worded emails (I am a communications expert after all) asking to gain a deeper understanding as to why a family pet was seized with no evidence and without any member of the department knowing the correct policies, and the case was dropped with a return date for Stitch arranged.

All I can say in this situation is:

  • Don’t get hysterical. I tried this and quickly got shunted from one police person to another.
  • Don’t accuse/blame others. Luckily I knew not to do this and it meant everyone I dealt with was nice and (hopefully) didn’t mind taking my calls.
  • Do be compliant, be friendly and make yourself the person they want to answer the phone to.
  • Do be methodical. Keep a record of everything people say to you and question anything you don’t understand.

The few well worded emails totalled 14 including their replies, and there were probably another 20 phone calls in between. Patience really was a virtue and understanding that we were having to deal with multiple departments and this would take time, helped. Being calm meant that the police dealt with me calmly and always took my calls. It also meant that when I sent the initial email asking why policies and procedures had not been followed, they reacted immediately, escalated the case and Stitch was cleared for release less than 24 hours later. So if you’re ever in a similar situation get in touch and I’ll help you write that winning email!