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As I sat down to enjoy my beautifully prepared lunch yesterday, things took a drastic about turn. My cosy domestic bubble burst in the manner of a very large party balloon being pricked by a very large, sharp pin.

My mobile phone trilled, !NUMBER WITHHELD! flashed on the screen – Ok, better put my professional/together voice on!

‘Hi, can you talk? It’s me, how are you?’
‘Yes, sure I can talk, fabulous thanks and you?’
‘I’ve got something for you’
‘Great, what it is it?’
‘It’s a blah-di-blah-di-blah at blah-di-blah? Yeah? Interested?’
‘Wow that sounds great!’
‘Read the spec, I need to send your CV to them today, they want someone to start immediately’
‘Sure (choke on flapjack silently) I’ll have to you within the hour – I need to change it. I’m not sure it’s working – I’ve had my CV appraised and was told it would cost £350 to put right’
‘Yeah, that social media thing on it, no one gets it.’
‘OK, I’ll dump it’
‘Good idea – get it over, be quick’

And then three job specs came through on email. Three job opportunities! What a bloody shock. I caught myself suddenly having to think. Life could change imminently. This little adventure of unemployment could soon be over. Shit.

As with all things work related, thought was quickly galvanised into action and I dragged my CV out of the document folder – grrrrrrrrrr. I gave myself an hour to rewrite it in a comprehensive and chatty fashion – yes, I’m a dyed in the wool deadline addict.

I began removing all links to my work on the worldwide wonder web which I’d lovingly searched out in my first jobsearch sojourn. Boo hoo – my social media CV was lame and had to be put out to pasture.

Then taking the advice of my CV appraiser, I dumbed down the font (apparently it was distracting and would mean my CV would be straight in the bin), I removed the bolded type (apparently incredibly distracting and annoying and would mean my CV would be straight in the bin) and I added some editorial around my work (apparently just listing it would be incredibly annoying and distracting etc. etc.). The finished work was much better and I spotted a most embarrassing typo – I’d spelt Communications as communciations – which I swiftly changed. Cringe – my usual faves are brest regards and daft copy which never go unnoticed, thankfully I’ve never committed the cardinal sin of typing pubic relations as many of my (former) colleagues have. I digress, as I pressed send message, I breathed a sigh of relief and waited ten minutes before calling the recruiter.

‘Hi – I’ve sent you my redraft, it’s much better’
‘Thanks, I’ll pop it across’

Ten minutes later, !NUMBER WITHHELD!, I knew it was her…

‘Darling, what was your last job title? I can’t see it on the CV…’

Oh god, in my panic I’d left it off.

‘Don’t worry I’ll change it and pop it over.’
‘Thanks (choke), speak to you soon!’

With that done it was time to pick up Miniminx – we did the weekly shop and went hideously over budget. By the time we got home I was feeling tired and irritable.

‘Sorry, Mummy is feeling a bit cruddy’
‘Don’t worry Mum.’
‘It’s just that there’s all these job thingies.’
‘Yeah great, you need a job.’
‘I don’t know if I want to work, I like being at home and doing my blog and writing.’
‘Well it’s tough Mum, I’d rather be at home all day but I have to go to school. Sorry but you have to go to work’

And so I heard a small version of myself deliver the bare naked truth…Mummy needs to get a job.

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I’ve been burying my head in the sand, and this week the snow, and it’s time to face facts. Staying at home with no income is a fool’s paradise.

I’m a bit lost without the social, intellectual and fiscal stimuli of working. Miniminx is bored of me being at home – she’s missing all the goodies I used to bring home from my travels and the general haphazard nature of our life which we’ve grown accustomed to.

Going to school is a bit of a grungefest these days, instead of arriving to drop her off in a cab with darkened windows and tottering in the playground fully made up, with glossy hair and crazy heels, it’s now a walk along the River clad in parka, jeans and biker boots (yes, of course I wear a top!) and lucky if I’ve managed to grab a shower yet.

She’s going to be in for a fright when she starts to notice that my purse strings are going to be much tighter, even though the heartstrings are still tuggable, Pester Power moments will be played out on deaf ears – you know the ones ‘But I really, REALLY need it, I reeeally do – it would make me so happy. You know you’re the best Mummy.’

Don’t get me wrong, there’s fun to be had in this downtime but being at home hasn’t made me tidy the house more or start knitting – I still spend most of my day, mainly out of ‘Im-not-working-but-I-know-I-should-be’ guilt, sat at my computer in search of the main chance! I think I’ve lost my gall these last few weeks and I’m wondering if I will ever work again, it’s a crisis of professional confidence and it’s eating away at me day by day.

It was easy to keep busy in January as it was all very novel – fabulous in fact. But February? It’s time to take stock and hit the refresh button on my reality check page, I’ve got to take a sharp look at our expenses and start making cutbacks;

Newspapers & magazines (now get them online)
Lovefilm subscription is gone (£10 per month)
Virgin Wines Discovery Club cancelled (£80 per quarter)
£8 per hour baby sitters no more (£80 per month)
cut back on the food bill (cut back to £60 per week – difficult when there’s no Aldi or Lidl in walking distance)
designer clothes can wait until I get working (thousands!)
taxis only when necessary (hundreds)
no more cinema (£50 per month)
or eating out (a lot)
no holiday (a massive amount)
personal trainer (£400 per ten sessions)
beautician (back to doing my own pedicures etc)
turn off the heating in the day when I’m home and wear scarf and gloves (well, I’m not really going to do that)

And that amounts to my lifestyle down the drain. My gym membership could go but that’s my sanity, and the cleaner, well it’s a minor expense and there’s nothing better than a loyal cleaner. I’ve also got Miniminx’s afterschool lessons to pay for; Stagecoach £315, guitar lesson £45 and all the school trips, plus it’s her birthday soon which will have to be downsized this year. At least there are no school fees to pay.

So how will I make any cash without a job in the credit crunch? Blogging – I wish I could but why pay a blogger when they do it for free?! Selling stuff online? I’ve signed up to Music Magpie to ditch my CDs, and while I buy on ebay, I don’t tend to sell on it. Carboot sales?

I’ve hit The Wall – like Simon Pegg in Run Fat Boy Run – and I’m wondering if now’s the time to find a different way to make a living…answers on a postcard please!

I’m going to grab my iPod and hit the treadmill in hope of inspiration…

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winter-wonderland

Oh my oh my – how much fun we’ve been having the last two days – no school, lots of fun and lots and lots of snow. And the best bit (among many) – I think I’ve finally fallen in love with this area!

I’ve been a complete urban minx for most of my life, so living in Zone 3 has never cut the mustard. We’ve lived here for 2.5 years now and my friends and family have always said ‘It’s great for kids, you did the right thing.’ But when they’ve asked me, ‘Are you happy?’ I’ve always said ‘Yes’ through clenched teeth.

It’s hard to uproot yourself, even if it’s for the better. I love 24hr living – but everywhere shuts early here. I’ve looked for the secret underground bars, but there are none and you can’t get a pint of milk after 10pm. To me, it’s all been a bit on the twee side. It’s very well-to-do, there are lots of 4x4s, boutiques aimed at the over 50s plus very noisy air traffic and even worse, nowhere to work locally. I’ve downplayed this with the upside of good schools and low crime, but it’s never really played out to anything like the way I’ve felt about where I’ve lived before.

I’m pleased, no, delighted, to say that all changed for the better yesterday. I’ll be honest, after an action packed weekend, we overslept and I was tempted to sleep in, but my half Catholic side got the better of me, it was time to get up and face the world.

It was so peaceful, so bright, so wonderful, so snowy. ‘Mummy! It’s Winter Magic!’ cried Miniminx as she looked outside, we both felt like we’d woken up in Narnia! Sitting down to breakfast and I put the news on – Radio 4, lots of snow, England’s gone to the dogs, yada, yada, parents are selfish (see Children’s Society story) and my phone rang ‘School’s closed!’ ‘Thanks heavenly Mum-babe! – School’s out honey, get your cosy stuff on, we’re out there’ – we headed out the door to one of life’s wonders…ankle deep snow everywhere and all our friends having a ball. It was like a perfect dream.

snow-lady

We went down the river (just at the end of our road) and who couldn’t help but squeal with delight and run around – all of Miniminx’s school friends were out frolicking and so were the parents. Lovely rosy cheeks, snowballs and smiles. It’s been such an unexpected delight, two days of freedom for the kids – building snowmen, toboganing, snowballing, crunchy stepping in the frozen snow – and everything pushed aside for once. It feels like a big, huge, belated Christmas present and it looks so beautiful round here, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else and I’m so happy that we’ve had these two days.

So, it’s time to put out the rubbish and the recycling, make sure we get up on time and find that lost homework, but I tell you, there’s a lot to be said for Winter magic, as cold as it is, just thinking about it makes me feel warm inside, and it’s not just the central heating on full blast!

And a big shout out here – thanks Jo for your lovely bloggers campfire – I’ve really enjoyed reading all the posts and what a great collection of people.

Ciao for now…more snow forecast

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After a sleepless night, coffee seemed to be the solution, but oh, how wrong can you be?

My day is an empty sandwich; I’ve done my good deed for the day.  This morning, I walked Miniminx and her class to their swimming lesson at the local pool – think herding cats across the M4 and you get the picture.  And tonight I’m toasting my Sister’s birthday at the Dorchester and off to the theatre, think sophisticats and you get that picture 😉

But in between?  Yikes, I’ve totally screwed this day up…1 large cappucino + 2 supersized mugs of coffee thick with sugar later and I have percolated a huge sense of panic; I MUST log in to messenger, facebook, linkedin, my new ning thing, my blog – check, refresh, check everything…look at other blogs, check the news, google anything, everything, something, otherwise I’m going to miss out (on what, I’m not really sure).

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.  Only a dummy wouldn’t look for the latest jobs.  I hit the jobs boards, page down, page down, click, click…nothing new, same old, same old. Exhausting.

Oh my god, yes!  That critical appraisal of my CV I got, I MUST reread it immediately and take notes, and I must, I must rewrite my CV – it’s so rubbish.  Or, should I pay them £350 to rewrite it for me – a ‘simple investment in my future’ the email says, lazy way out says me.   But I’m far too embarrassed to even think about sending my CV out to anyone now, apparently the font is wrong, wrong, wrong.  I’ve not sold myself well at all for someone of my professional standing and even worse, the lay out is distracting!  How the hell did I ever get work before, it must have been a complete fluke!!!

Oh, I know, how about all those other exec-jobs-subscription-only web shites sites I got a guest subscription for, should I cough up?  Nah, bad idea. No money coming in remember?? (I refrain from kicking myself for fear of falling off my chair, I’ve already nearly trapped my hand in the bin lid by leaning from my seat to pop something in it with one hand and trying to close the lid with the other hand – well, it seemed like a good move at the time).

Oh, there’s a thought, why don’t I retrain as a plumber? Where’s that email I got in my junk folder on hotmail yesterday….? Oh god, where is it, have I deleted it?  I’m sure there’s a fortune to be made out of drains…and now I’ve lost the blinking email.

I can’t handle this, I can try and fidget out this cappucino-neurosis, but I’m actually going to get a life, switch off my lap top and go and do something more interesting instead. 

Now, where are my glad rags, it’s time to get glammed up…

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All in all, it’s been a pretty good week so far – I’m over the moon to be listed on Alpha Mummy – and I’m really looking forward to a fantastic weekend which won’t really end until Tuesday. Three birthday parties and my own belated birthday present – a trip to see a show. One of my greatest friends takes me to the theatre every year for my birthday and we go next week, I never know what we’re seeing until we get there.

I’m taking it easy today and will be lolloping on the sofa as I did a major work out with my personal trainer yesterday, he may be fit but I look more like this at the gym…

I got a bit of a knock back today. I’ve been rejected at first stage for a freelance job (that means on sight of CV in my world) because I’m not relevant. Well, that’s a bit of lie actually, I’m just being melodramatic…other people are more relevant apparently. From what I gather, there are just too many candidates around for too few jobs. I did the old peashooter/moon trick again yesterday (that’s what I call uploading your CV to apply for a corporate job…see here). I’m spending my days following up on job options and there’s nothing at my level around, I’m overqualified for what’s out there or too restricted by the commute. I simply refuse to spend three hours commuting and missing out on seeing my wonderful Miniminx.

As usual at this time of day, when I’ve exhausted the usual avenues of searching for work, I’m left wondering what I’m going to do. I need some inspiration as I feel like I’m going round in circles at the moment. Do I just start up my own business and dump the career and do my own thing?
Or do I just tough out the next few months? I’ve got some options up my sleeve at least but for now I’m going to get creative again and finish my collage…it could be a good career move!

On days like these, this is the song that always lifts my spirits – INNER CITY BLUES, MARVIN GAYE – I found it on youtube…go on, have a listen, I might just have to play it again, it’s just brilliant, the lyrics resonate completely with our times even though the track was released in 1971

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In an effort to keep myself occupied I’ve decided I’m going to really work this blog world. Personal blogging is hugely different from professional blogging and I am finding it a challenge to keep going. It’s more to do with ego keepy-uppy than anything else – how do you stay a) motivated while unemployed b) able to write dazzling copy c) not sound like a moaner?

The truth is, things are just not hot on the job front. I’m going to have to reinvent myself and learn some pretty new tricks in order to stand out from the crowd. The social media CV just ain’t working. Every recruiter I speak to says it’s hugely competitive out there and there are hundreds of candidates, when only a year ago there were few and far between. When I apply for jobs on corporate web sites, I feel like I’m aiming a pea shooter at the moon. My CV disappears into the ether, I get an acknowledgement and then nothing. Boo hoo.

I’m used juggling career and family and social life and addicted to high octane living, travel, pressure, deadlines, excitement and now my wings are clipped. So while I can chill out and take stock, I really need to feel engrossed, entertained and/or that I’m gaining or learning something and this morning that is how I didn’t feel until I got a few calls and managed to have a bath and get my face on. So what else have I done to do (btw I never add in the 7-9am school run mania, maybe I’ll post on that another time…)

So what have I done today??

Meetings missed = 1
Sick children needing picking up from school= 1
Job opportunity = 1
Cigarettes = 8
Coffee = 2 extra strong
Tea = countless
Cooking = tom yum soup from scratch (may share the recipe one day…)
Social invitations = 2 (thankfully)
Bloggering about = 4 (hours!!!)
Quirky events = 1 (discovered foxes have excavated so much under the garden shed it’s about to fall in the hole)

And it’s only 3.30pm…

And let’s not forget today is one of the most important days of this century – yep, Obama inauguration. It’s unavoidable and fantastic!!! I hope this spells the end of the credit crunch but it’s going to be a hard one to pull off. I’ve said it more than once, 2009 is the last year of the naughty noughties and boy this is one hangover to end all hangovers…

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Yes, the about turn of non stop whirl of working life leads, one thinks, to a life of leisure. But the thing is, I’m one of those people who just needs to think about doing one thing and then life just seems to get really frantic, well, not frantic but sometimes it’s the equivalent of a drop of water on a Gremlin.

Take for example a simple trip to my storage unit yesterday. Easy enough, drop off stuff, pick up stuff and enjoy a lengthy lunch in a local posh pub…

I’m thanking my lucky stars that I went actually – I opened up the door to find all my storage boxes had collapsed and there has been a damp problem in that area of the building following the cold snap. So now it’s a case of unpacking, repacking and moving units – what a zen-like task and what a pain in the arse too. However, on the bright side, I only go there once a year or so and if I hadn’t gone everything would have rotted. I think some of my stuff is ruined. I went there to take a stack of packing boxes which cost me a fortune last time I moved and I stubbornly refuse to ditch them.

So now they’ve gone from my house, amazingly the space is already replaced by a new load of boxes from my meanderings online in a few of my favourite shops. I ordered a Dyson animal on Amazon which looks amazing. It replaces my old Dyson which I thought was fine, even though it’s 10 years old. I asked my cleaner why the rugs always looked so dirty and she said it was the Dyson, she told me it was like using a toy hoover – I was mortified, so I had to replace it. Pricey to say the least but it’s built to last and it had £50 off.

Next a delivery from figleaves – I’m really impressed since I placed the order less than 48 hours ago, most of it is 50-70% off. Then my White Company delivery – great! Kids hangers for Miniminx’s ward robe, and the Brighton Bath Towel rail which I’ve waited and waited for a discount on but it’s never in the sale so I jumped straight in. I’d forgotten that I’d bought a backgammon set reduced from £80 to £35 and so that was a neat surprise and 30% off scented candle is my other bargain. It’s like Christmas day with all this arriving.

But last night my very disappointing Sainsburys shop arrived with a lot missing. The driver was apologetic but it’s not his fault. I’d gone for a lot of 2 for 1 offers and some were missing. They’ve also done the old – give the internet shopper stuff that’s nearly out of date trick – so my 2 for 3 on rice noodles is ridiculous as I only get through a pack every three days and the sell by is tomorrow. Bummer. Even worse, three of us were playing on Wii Fit and my Super Hoola record score was reduced as we had to get the door – it was actually quite funny tho.

And the job hunt? Pah, there’s nothing go on so I’m looking forward to getting my hair done (an essential for job hunting) and visiting the dole office tomorrow. I’ve decided to take a positive approach and try and see what courses are available to me in my out-of-work state.

Is anyone else blogging about being unemployed? I seem to be unable to find anyone out there…am I missing something??

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