Post redundancy crossroads: navigating myself and my skills round diversions towards baking, swimming, publishing and people

I am supposed to be preparing for our after-school cookery club which we hold every week in the kitchen. This involves:

1. cleaning the kitchen

2. removing all papers – odd pieces, old homework, newspapers, written-on post-it notes – to recycling bin or into a neat pile on the stairs for ‘sorting later’

3. preparing surfaces for their weekly shroud of icing sugar and flour

4. geeing myself to be really calm about ensuing mayhem

I am also meant to be making fish pie for supper, and need to get a move on as the kitchen will need fumigating of fishy smells before the quite-fussy-fish-eater returns from school

But hey fuelled by the seriously good and very strong coffee at my favourite café, The Spoke, I’m ignoring everything and embarking on a new post. This morning I’ve thought a lot about the crossroads I’m at. I’ve wondered how best to represent it here, the sketches in my notebooks are garbled maps of balloons, scribbles and jottings.

There are seven roads off the junction leading to:








and some of the routes overlap. At each destination there are shiny things, and bright lights beckoning me. I don’t have an A-Z, SatNav or Google Maps to help me navigate my way. Sometimes one route seems best, other days another, and some days there are diversions blocking each way. I’ve popped the page from my notebook at the foot of this – you can tell it’s genuine as it’s not very legible.

Above it all there’s a signal gantry – a bit like on motorways, with three routes off it.

photo signal gantry

There’s a voice in my head that’s getting louder and stronger, boosted no end by my husband’s unswerving presence at my side, and the voice is urging, ‘Just do it all. Go for it.’ So that’s exactly what I am doing. And I’m hoping not to get lost along the way!

photo notebook December 2014

PS Whatever you’re doing and wherever you are (waving hello to readers here in the UK, in America, Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan) thank you very much for following my adventures.

Applying for a job: acceptance or rejection, negative or positive outcome?

I applied for a job. It’s a very formal process, isn’t it; reviewing and tailoring your CV and sculpting a corking covering letter that really sells your skills and attributes to the role and company. This is my second go, I applied to something else earlier in the summer but the role was withdrawn before interview.

I went for the interview feeling upbeat and positive. I really enjoyed it all, relishing the chat about the trade and talking through campaigns and challenges.

Today I got the email saying sorry, they’d chosen someone else. Instead of feeling rejected – quite a common sentiment this year – I felt very positive. It was extraordinary. I felt a very strong ‘not-right-ness’. I know I have worked with words for years, and that’s not a proper word, but it does sum up the feeling perfectly. I wasn’t right for the position and I wasn’t right for the company – and they clearly felt the same. And do you know what, that’s absolutely fine.

I’d been approached earlier in the day with another possible opportunity, so perhaps I received the later news better as I’d been buoyed up by this, I don’t know.

I remember very clearly the feelings of rejection in the publishing workplace. When we’d bust a gut to put together a pitch, line up in beauty parades or design stunts to win new business – and then for whatever reason the author and their agent decided our offer wasn’t right, the territories were wrong or that they simply preferred a competitor’s team. Although being turned down didn’t get any easier, I did learn that perhaps the particular publishing house and team might not always be the best fit for that book or that author – and as children’s publishing is swings and roundabouts we’d win another pitch another time, and perhaps work with the chosen author on another book. There was always another opportunity around the corner.

So I know that if you or I apply for something, and don’t get it, we need to remember it might just be a case of not-rightness too.

The ten year old footballing son’s reaction to the news? ‘Don’t worry mum you’ll get another job.’ A good lad to have on my team.