The line in the sand

line in the sand
Everyone has a line they say they won’t cross. Whether it’s conscience, upbringing, or just a general moral code, there’s always a limit to what people will do.
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Back on top!

This isn't my office - but kinda looks an energetic place to work

This isn’t my office – but kinda looks a busy place to work

I’m working again!! I’ve been working for two weeks now and I’m bloody loving it! It’s honestly such a relief to be earning money again; to feel like I’m paying my way, and that I can provide properly for my daughter again.
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The Best Laid Plans…

life plans
What is that saying? Something about “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray“? Or we could go with “the Devil laughs when we make plans“. Either way, it’s clear that plans are not always meant to come to fruition. So why am I beating myself up so much that mine haven’t?
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World Peace

world peace
I’ve recently joined up with Bloggers For Peace, and as such I have to publish a peace related blog post at least once a month, whether it be my thoughts, a photo, a poem – anything.

So this is my first piece.

World Peace is such a massive concept. Too large to comprehend; certainly too large to appear achievable. But what are kids taught to do when tackling big tasks or complex problems? To break them down into bite sized chunks.

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The Poverty Trap of the Hardworking Single Mother

paid peanuts
NOTE: I’ve thought long and hard about publishing this post. It’s potentially got a lot more personal details than I planned to include. I’m not looking for sympathy; this is just an honest report of how it is for, I imagine, many people in similar situations. Maybe somewhere along the line the right people will see it and the problem can begin to be addressed.

Let me start off by saying how much I love my job. And I really do. Those of you who have followed my blog for some time will know that I often get in early, leave late, almost always work through lunch and often take work home so I can work in the evenings too. I do this because I love my job and I take pride in doing it well.

I certainly don’t do it for the money. When I was offered my job I was desperate to get out of my previous position in a dead-end company with not enough work to keep me even slightly occupied (to give you an idea, there were days when I played over 5 hours of Solitaire during my 6 1/2 hour work day). I could see the potential in the new position so I took the job for an extremely low wage.

I’ve managed during this time. Just. I don’t always pay my rent on time. My daughter has to plan to grow out of clothes in advance. I hardly ever go out. I skip evening meals sometimes, maybe 5-10 each month because I just can’t always afford it. In case you’re wondering, my daughter does not.

At the back of my mind I knew I could prove myself before my six month review, so was fairly confident in getting a pay rise in the not too distant future.

Here I am, six months later and I’ve been given a promotion, which is more than I hoped for. My boss has asked me to work out what benefits I would lose with different increments of a pay rise so he can make sure I’m not worse off. Quite decent of him, I thought.

So last night that’s what I did. I worked out the figures for Tax Credits and Housing Benefit corresponding to my current wage and £1000 increments up to a possible £7000 pay rise. I just want to point out that there is no possibility of me getting an £7000 pay rise, I just couldn’t stop, drawn to finding out the impact on my incomings with an almost morbid fascination.

And after all these calculations, using figures from the relevant government websites, I have come to an irrefutable conclusion: I will never have any more money.

If I get a pay rise of £7,000 (which I won’t) I will only be £610 per year better off once my benefits have been adjusted. £11.70 a week. Wow.

I can actually see for the first time ever, why some people don’t try. If this is the thanks I get from the government for being a hard-working, conscientious member of society then why the hell do I bother?

It will be years before I get enough pay rises to actually have more money. My daughter will have grown up and left home before I get a chance to treat her to some of the little things she misses out on now.

I will try hard not to let this demotivate me. I will continue to work my ass off, giving everything I have to my job. Because I have been brought up to work, to pay my way. But it will be hard. The thing that has kept me going is the fervent belief that things will get better. And now I know they won’t.

Losing my Senses

I was talking with a colleague at work last week about which of the senses we would prefer to lose (not including touch). It’s a really hard question!

If we include seeing, hearing, tasting and smelling then my gut reaction is to pick smelling. People can and do live happily without a sense of smell. But then I thought about it some more.

I would miss out on the wonderful lemon and lime aroma of my morning shower gel that really wakes me up and makes me feel alive. I’d miss the comforting smell of lavender, that picks me up and gives me a cuddle. Oranges smell like Christmas, but I would never again be blindsided by somebody eating one nearby. And that amazing moment when you smell the aftershave of the sexy guy walking past and it makes your nerve endings tingle? I don’t want to give that up!

So I thought about taste. Do I need that? Is it essential? The answer to those questions is of course ‘no’, but do I want it? My colleague knows somebody who lost their sense of taste some time ago. They go out for meals with family and friends but don’t enjoy the experience any more. I can’t imagine that, getting to a fancy restaurant and browsing the menu, wondering what to have as it all sounds so tasty – then the realisation that I could have a soup bowl of dirty dishwater and never know the difference.

I love food. And I mean LOVE food. I can’t imagine not bring able to taste it. What would be the point of eating?

Ok then, I suppose that brings me to hearing. Never hearing music again? Not hearing my daughter’s voice? No more going to gigs and getting totally swept away by it all? I don’t think I could willingly give that up. Music has been my constant companion without which my life would feel empty.

So that leaves sight. Losing your sight makes you very dependant on another person or thing. I think I would be too terrified to do anything, scared to go out because I don’t know what’s out there. Or who is out there. I spend most of my free time reading or writing. I know I could learn Braille, and a lit of books are made into audio books now, so I suppose there is a work-around for it. I just don’t think I could shake the feeling of isolation and helplessness.

After all that if I had to make a decision I suppose I would go for losing my sense of smell. But I would miss it. So, so much.

I used to wonder….

I used to wonder – do you miss me?
The way we talked all night long
The way our bodies came together as one
Almost as though we were meant to be.

I look around the room and see mementos of our past
The statue from Greece. The print from Prague.
The dents in my heart where you tried to break it.
It’s stronger than you thought – it beats so proud.

The things we collected are purely things –
No special memories or sentimental worth.
My life is my own, and I’m using it wisely,
and as I sit here I know – I don’t miss you.

29th May 2012