Our GCSE Manifesto

It is almost that time of year again; on August 18 and 25 this year, children in the UK will receive their results from the first batch of in-person exams since 2019. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to be on the other side of A ‘levels and GCSEs.

I am deeply thankful that we are through this part of our daughter’s education, which for me, was one of the most stressful parts of her schooling. For many reasons, I think we did well to get her through school relatively intact.

So, I have revised a post I first published in 2018, which reflects where I was then and where I am now:

Our GCSE Manifesto

I’m sure, like many thousands of other parents, my husband and I are counting down the days until the end of June 2018, when our teenage daughter will have completed her GCSE examinations.

I have been astounded by how stressful we’ve found these two years and can’t wait for it to be over. Back in the late 70s, I genuinely do not remember my parents or me being this involved or anxious about my O’ Levels. At that time, they were just a set of exams to take before moving on to either work or some form of further study.

So, what’s changed?

I should imagine quite a lot, but this month’s post isn’t an in-depth treatise on the pros and cons of the current UK education system. Life is too short. 😉

But what I would like to do so that my husband and I can support our daughter through the next six months and retain our sanity is to lay out our GCSE Manifesto.

So, to our daughter, we’d like to say:

We don’t need you to finish with nine, 9***********, or however the hell the top marks are described these days. A smattering of reasonable grades is fine with us, thank you very much. 

Get yourself through this but look after yourself too; your physical and mental health is our top priority. We want you to be resilient, and that might mean sacrificing a few marks here and there.   

We need you to put in the ‘effort’; this is probably the most important predictor of success in these exams. So, if you can look us both in the eye and tell us you have tried your hardest and best. We will be proud.  

These exams are a gateway, a set of stepping-stones to a future we cannot fully predict or control. They may lead you to where you want to go, but they may also lead to unexpected or unanticipated opportunities. They don’t have to determine the rest of your life; that is for you to do.

Learning is a joy and is for life, so don’t allow this small part of your education to put you off. If you can keep your mind open to Learning and your heart open to friendship, compassion and kindness, your dad and I will have done our job. 

And remember, whatever happens on August 23 when the results come out, there is always a plan B, and we will be with you, come what may.

Life will go on; all you need to do is make the best choices from wherever you happen to be.

Love

Mum and Dad

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Funny how grief hits you

Hindsight is a beautiful thing; ten years after the passing of my mum, I am still learning about the impact it continues to have on me. Like ripples in a pond – the effects will never stop.

During the final months of her life in 2012, I effectively shut down my business and split my time between mum and looking after my family. I did not have the mental capacity and energy to do more.

I watched with mounting respect how mum’s carer made all our lives that little bit easier. The difference she made every day she came in – all while earning less than six pounds an hour. 

Then in the months following Mum’s death, I questioned my career as a coach. I wondered what difference I was making. I asked myself about the meaning of work and its purpose, which led me to explore a couple of completely different roles. One as a personal carer and the other as a support worker for vulnerable young women.

My worldview had changed – but I did not fully realise it then. I could not reconcile the care, compassion, and skill of mum’s carer with her pay level. I still can’t.

I had the cushion, the luxury of not having to work full time. I was not the primary breadwinner, so I could take the time I needed to go to bereavement counselling and start rebuilding my business.

Now I can look back and see more clearly the impact of mum’s death on my view of work and how it caused me to ask bigger and deeper questions.

So, after a lot of soul searching, countless books and webinars, I am outing myself; I can reveal myself to be a staunch believer and supporter of Universal Basic Income. I think its time has come.

I also recognise how my values around freedom and choice for all play into this. Freedom of choice cannot be just available to those with money.

And I think:

  • I will channel my impatience and frustration with the ‘world of work’ as I see it through a podcast dedicated to my mum. I would genuinely love to see more people moving across from earning money for their time to building wealth for their futures.
  • I will continue to support those who speak against Racism, Homophobia, Ableism, and Sexism. And those who recognise and work with Intersectionality.
  • It explains why I was so excited to stumble across the idea of universal Basic Income and the scope I see in it to release human talent and potential.
  • Our current way of working, expecting everyone to exchange time for money, is unsustainable. At some point, work as we know it will stop working. 
  • There is an environmental argument to be made. It will no longer make sense to continue paying people to make stuff, a large percentage of which will end up in Landfills.
  • There must be a better way where people can actively thrive. Asking people to just survive is not an acceptable option.  
  • Say what you like about social media, but I see so much potential and opportunity for individuals and communities to create, build and share. 
  • Let’s help people take full ownership and control of their careers and lives. There seems to be a pernicious belief that because someone is poor/living in poverty, they are somehow not entitled to a choice.
  • I am essentially unemployable (in the traditional sense) at this stage of my life and career.
  • Ideas and creativity are where it is at, I am less interested in stuff, and that is saying something from an ex-engineer.
  • I will complete and find a way to share my collection of stories – based on my life as an undergraduate engineer.  

I’m advocating for rethinking work. I believe that the only work that really matters is keeping yourself alive —Angela Garbes

I am a dreamer, always have been, always will be, from girl to woman. Without them, I don’t think I would have the life I have today. So, if you are one of life’s dreamers, you might as well make your dreams as big as possible.

‘Make it so big that it crowds out all doubt and uncertainty.’ – Dave O’Connor.

So, what is my dream?

All the above.  

Until next time

Janice Taylor

A letter to the Queen……………..

I first wrote about this incident in 2014 and again in 2016 to celebrate the Queen’s 90th. Now, as we approach the weekend of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, I feel compelled to give it another airing. It still makes me laugh to this day, so without ado, I give you:

A letter to the Queen

“Your majesty.”

Is how I imagine the letter of complaint about me and the service I was running might have begun? Unfortunately, at the time, I did not have the foresight to take a copy of the letter, or I might not have had the opportunity.

This incident which occurred in 1997, at the time the UK was handing Hong Kong to the Chinese, taught me one fundamental lesson. If you are going to put ‘pen to paper’ and write a letter of complaint – then go straight to the top, do not ‘mess about with the people in the middle.

Believe it or not, this letter of complaint addressed to our Queen at Buckingham palace made its way over a few weeks (It did not take long) to my employer at the time. I first heard about it when my line manager waved a copy of it under my nose one morning and asked me to give him some background. Warning me that I was to be questioned further by Senior Management.

Luckily for me, or maybe due to some prescience, I had laboriously copied out all the correspondence between myself and the letter’s author, who was studying with us from Hong Kong and so had a thick file of correspondence to present to Senior Management.

I was not worried, to be honest. I genuinely felt that we had done the best we could in the circumstances. We were operating before emails, video links, Skype etc. So perhaps our mistake was in being too optimistic in agreeing to support this student living in Hong Kong.

In hindsight, I probably should have taken this to my manager earlier after being sent the same pieces of work three or four times. Each time with the same mistakes, comments and corrections by the tutor, nothing seemed to move on.

Presented with my file, Senior Management could see what had happened, could see there was no fault attached to either party and decided that it made sense to refund his fees in full. They also wrote to the Queen’s office to assure them that the matter was now closed.

As for me, I continued with this employer for a few more years before deciding to move on and start my own business.

But it tickles me that there is potentially a letter of complaint about me somewhere within the vaults at Buckingham Palace, and it tickles me that it found its way to my employer. Today I also feel a sense of pride that I live in a country where anyone from anywhere can write to our Queen and potentially have their cause taken up.

Now that is what I call accountability. 😊

So, there you have it, until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

The books that made me

Once I had overcome my problems with reading at school, see it’s probably the way I’m wired; I read whatever I could get my hands on. As a young girl, I was drawn more to action and adventure and a sense of ‘derring-do.’ So, the stories and books that caught my imagination included:

Biggles – a series of books written about the flying ace James Bigglesworth and his adventures flying in the second and first world wars. Mostly I remember his Sopwith Camel in the second, and it never struck me as odd that his flying career curiously stretched across two world wars and beyond into civilian life.

Jennings and his adventures at boarding school with his best friend, Derbyshire. A series of books stuffed with high jinks and school pranks at Linbury Preparatory school, situated somewhere in the English countryside. Like all good adventures, they barely saw their parents because they boarded at the school. And I did attempt to emulate Jennings b starting a detective agency with my sister – but we couldn’t at the time find too many mysteries to solve 😊.

Swallows and Amazons – the story of siblings from two families with their water-based adventures on the Norfolk Broads. It might have caught my imagination as I learnt to row at the boating lake in Battersea Park.

We also spent a week on the Norfolk broads, though apart from mum running us aground and a fair amount of shouting and swearing, I don’t remember much else from that holiday. 

Just William was another favourite – William and his gang always made me laugh. Things never quite worked out according to plan. And I always enjoyed their attempts to enjoy bottles of ginger pop.’

The Chronicles of Narnia series was another favourite; I was drawn to other worlds without taking on the spiritual themes and undertones. Because where else would you expect to walk into a wardrobe and emerge somewhere wholly different.

So, these are the books I remember reading as a child – which might well account for my slightly gung-ho approach to life. Let’s get this done and try something different, a sense of adventure which led to:

  • Three months travelling around Australia – I was so privileged to be able to do this in the 90s.
  • Role-playing the part of a slug on an improvisation comedy course – I’d like to say I had to dig deep, but it turned out my inner slug, Brian, wasn’t too far away 😉.
  • Signing up for a stand-up comedy course – I have managed two so far and still haven’t quite worked it out of my system, so who knows?
  • Completing a two-year life writing course –was a recent adventure and one that I almost ducked out of after the first week.
  • Agreeing to perform as Reverend Janice, in the wedding ceremony, between Prince Aloysius Charming and Cinderella – I was thrilled to participate in the closing scene of the panto.

  • Visiting the highlands of Scotland – I have managed two trips so far but want to go back to that fantastic landscape.
  • Whale watching in Vancouver – we’ve managed it twice so far.
  • Horse riding in Jamaica – we had to cross a four-lane highway on horseback to get to our trail.

  • Eco -camping – three nights at a secret location; thank God my husband stopped me from booking longer.
  • Four years on an engineering course – which possibly made me the woman I am today, the first in my family to get into higher education, and the first opportunity to travel and live abroad.
  • Snorkelling at Runaway Bay in Jamaica – I really wasn’t at my best on that occasion.

I am hoping future adventures will include:

  • Launching a podcast that will complement my blogs – this is already beginning to take shape.
  • One more house move to simplify our lives – I am ready to try somewhere new.
  • A trip to see the Northern lights – we haven’t quite managed this one yet.
  • Interrailing around Europe – this appeals to me along with a trip on the Orient Express.

There has always been a restless side to my nature, so I think I may also be ready for one more career change.

And yes, I must acknowledge that my list of books does not include adventures with young brown girls.   But somehow, this did not stop me from believing I, too, could do the same. How much more might I have achieved if there had been greater representation in the books I could get my hands on.

It probably isn’t an accident that I completed Physics, Chemistry and Maths, A ‘Levels – not my first choices, but when I had to switch for various timetabling reasons, I simply thought, ‘why not?’ Luckily my head was able to pull the strings needed to help me get into my local FE/HE college. I would not have passed all three if I had stayed on at my school.

So, what adventures will you embark on in 2022 and beyond?

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

The computer says no

It has been ten years since our mum passed away. In some ways, things have not moved on too much, but then, of course, the Pandemic hit, and the whole world stopped. Strangely, part of me is grateful that mum wasn’t around – I cannot imagine going through the final months of her life and not being able to physically visit her. That would have been unbearable. 

But today’s post is about celebrating mum’s life because during those ten years we have had:

Two trips to Jamaica – to visit the land of her birth and meet relatives we hadn’t met before. The picture below is from our very first visit.

Runaway Bay

More regular contact with our family in Jamaica, especially since the start of the Pandemic and the advent of Teams/Zoom.

Regular check-ins with our dad/stepdad, via phone and in person.

So, borrowing a line from the Little Britain comedy sketch show makes a good title for today’s post and how it felt when our insurers refused our claim when we had to cancel our first trip to Jamaica ten years ago.  

Thank you Pixabay

We had everything paid for; it was going to be a big trip to take our mum back to the land of her birth and to meet our extended family.

We planned, talked, and saved for over two years, however unknown to us, mum’s cancer had already started to return, and it was to prove too late to get her across. It just wasn’t going to be possible to take her and none of us at the time could face going without her.

But today, I want to celebrate the fact that despite being told initially by our insurers that we wouldn’t receive a penny from the £5000 we had paid for seven airline tickets. We did eventually get our money back.

Being told we weren’t going to get our money back was one of my lowest points, as it felt like losing mum all over again. However, as a family, we accepted this and moved on. We put our visit to Jamaica on the back burner as we learnt to manage and cope without mum.

What happened next shows me that if time doesn’t completely heal, it does at least soothe, as, after a year or so, we were able to review the travel situation a little more clearly and came up with the idea of contacting the airline, directly. It seems an obvious thing to do in hindsight, but at the time, it just didn’t occur to us.

It only took Delta Airlines a couple of weeks to reply, with their condolences for our mother’s death and an assurance that we could indeed get a full refund. No admin fees, no hassle; they had, in fact, made this clear to our travel agent, but for reasons no one can fully fathom, this message never got through to us at the time.

Even the travel agent couldn’t quite explain it, though I don’t think they investigated too thoroughly.

In any case, our family trip to Jamaica was back on the cards, and that is what we did eight years ago for our first trip. We travelled out to stay in Runaway Bay and caught up with mum’s brothers, sisters, and cousins and visited the land where she was born.

Thank goodness we didn’t just leave it to, ‘the computer says no’……….

Our resilience as a family and our just ‘give it a go’ attitude brought us to this point, as well as the generosity of spirit of Delta Airlines, who just said ‘yes’.

Here’s to you, mum 😊.

Until next time.

Janice Taylor

The end of an era

Before Christmas, I was saddened to hear that Kessler’s International has gone into administration after being in business for over 100 years. I worked there as a graduate engineer in the late 80s. It was my first ‘proper’ job after finishing my degree, and I will be forever grateful to them for getting my career started.

The giant watch face you see occupies pride of place in our kitchen – it was my leaving present when I left Kessler’s in 1990. The straps are somewhere in our loft.

Kessler’s was a family run business when I joined in the 80s – but more recently, the family sold it, and it became part of the Hexcite group of companies. Hexcite kept the family name because it is well known and respected within the Point of Sale and Merchandising industry.

On balance, my time at Kessler’s was happy, but being an employee there, wasn’t always a bed of roses. Though it could be quite a formidable organisation to work for, they still gave me a second chance when I needed it.

And I worked alongside some real characters, who were mainly funny and kind. And I am still in touch with a few of those characters today. I can honestly say that working at Kessler’s was one of the most memorable times of my employment history.

So, today I want to celebrate the people I worked with at Kesler’s – in all their glory. I learnt something from every single one of them.

 RT – one of the graduates who greeted and showed me around the factory the day I arrived for my interview with such enthusiasm and verve.

JC – the production Manager who interviewed me in his smoke-filled office. I don’t remember him asking me a single question 😊.

Tombstone Roy – the spray shop supervisor; I can’t quite remember how he got his nickname and whether he was aware of it. But I always thought it was superb.

Mike – a senior manager at BDM who regularly invited an impoverished graduate to a slap-up Sunday lunch with him and his wife.

C – we worked together in Buying, but the less said about that time, the better. It was tough working with someone who thought all graduates were a waste of time.

J – the metal shop supervisor who helped me out of a tight spot when I messed up the purchase of some steel plates for a beach-themed display. My error caused him a problem – but he still put me straight with kindness and care.

Whoever voted to give me a second chance after a disastrous performance appraisal after six months, had I lost this job, I would have been in big trouble. Instead, I ended up staying with Kessler’s for over four years. I suspect my saviour was the Managing Director, GK.

NE – The best manager ever, I still remember him with enormous respect and affection, even after almost forty years. NE effectively coached us long before coaching became a thing; his approach made a big difference at the start of my career. Under his management, I learnt how much you could achieve with a simple tool like a spreadsheet and some creativity and imagination. I became Swatch girl – responsible for steering all the related components through production, so everything came together seamlessly for assembly. 

RT, EM and PR – my fellow engineering graduates, you were the best group to go yomping around the countryside with as part of a team-building challenge. Despite our poor showing, I would not change a thing, even though two of us lost sight of the mission, seduced by clear blue skies and roses.

EM- who invited me along to a Gaelic football match – all I remember, aside from spilling out of the back of a van, is lots of people, lots of laughter and lots of running around. EM also helped me move digs on more than one occasion.  

JH – you taught me everything about pulling an estimate together. I taught you all I knew about spreadsheets – namely SuperCalc4. Our time in Estimating was highly productive except when we spent a morning pricing up your garden shed.  

Above is one of our computerised estimates – JH completed all estimates by hand before my arrival.

Old blue eyes – turned up one day, from the other side of the world as part of his work experience and sat opposite my desk while I was in Estimating. I (old brown eyes) did visit him in Australia after I left Kessler’s. 

GT – you were a good friend then and an even better one now.

Finally, I can say that working at Kessler’s didn’t suit everyone; you either stayed for a good while or left pretty sharpish, I managed four years.

But to all Kessler employees, past and present – I salute you.  

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Squid and the games we played as children

Loathe it or love it; there is no ignoring the phenomenal Netflix series, Squid, that is currently taking the world – or at least my corner of it by storm.

I am in the ‘love it’ camp – completely caught up in the storytelling despite the gore, and there is a lot of it right from the start. If blood and guts are not your thing, then probably best to give it a miss.

For me, Squid is an alluring mix of the 1973 American Science fiction film, West World. Yul Brynner as the murdering android is superb and a possible forerunner of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator. But I am wandering from the point. The ruthless and political machinations of the Hunger Games and the naivety and innocence of Jim Carey in the Truman Show. A mix that I find completely and utterly compelling.

Some scenes had my heart pounding; others brought me close to tears at the sheer poignancy and beauty of the acting. Yet others had me reaching for a cushion to cover my eyes at the casual cruelty shown.

I can’t be the only person who is now reminiscing over the games they played as a child, albeit without such dire consequences. I remember we spent a lot of time outside, in the area around the back of the flats where the bomb raid shelters stood.

There was nearly always a small crowd of us in the days when children regularly played outside and were not so tightly supervised by adults. I grew up in the 70s.

So, this is what I remember playing as a child in the 70s in South London.

British Bulldog –as I remember it, everyone except for one person lined up against a wall. The aim was to get to the other side without getting caught or tagged. If you were, you joined the person in the middle to catch the others. So as the game progressed, more and more children were there waiting to tag or catch you as you tried to make it to the other side.

I was a fast runner and could zig and zag with the best of them, so I usually made it through to nearly the end. Which only happened when there was just one person left to try and make it across.

Knockdown Ginger   – this one was and still is more contentious as it did involve a few of us hopping over to another block of flats, knocking on someone’s door at random, and then waiting until the last possible moment to run away.

Most people would shout at us, ‘bloody kids, ‘and leave it at that – but occasionally someone would decide to give chase, and that is when it got really, ‘exciting.’ Especially if the lift was on a ‘go-slow.’

And please note, I am not suggesting that anyone go out and play this game.

Cannon – this game involved four sticks, three placed against a wall with the fourth lined up across the top. As soon as the ‘cannon’ was fired – that is, someone threw a ball to break up the stick arrangement, it was time to run. The aim was to avoid being hit by the ball while rebuilding the sticks against the wall.  

And when we weren’t playing these games, we were either busy putting on dance shows, setting up fights with the children a few streets away or jumping off the 8ft high bomb raid shelters, which is how I ended up with stitches in my knee. But that’s a story for another time.

As the oldest, all I needed to do was keep an eye on the time and remember when mum told us to be home – which we mostly did while avoiding any difficult questions about knocking on doors. 😉.

And if it ever happens, I’ll certainly be up for Squid – series two.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

Elephants in London…

Herds of Life-Sized Elephants Roam through London’s Parks for a Global Conservation Project

To see for yourself, click here

I would have so loved to have walked amongst these elephants in London over the summer. Still, I only stumbled across the story a few days after they had moved on. The owner’s dispersed the herd and auctioned off each elephant sculpture to raise money to support grassroots organisations in India.

But it did remind me of a story I first came across some years back about the phrase:

An Elephant never forgets

I’d never really given the origin of this saying much thought until I came across this article, and it got me thinking:

“Have you ever wondered how animal trainers used to control a five-tonne elephant? They did it by controlling the animals thinking. When a baby elephant was being trained, a rope was tied around its leg and then tied to a wooden post that was securely fixed in the ground.”

The article then explains how the baby elephant, being weak, would struggle and struggle, straining to break free. Eventually, it would learn to believe that to ‘struggle was futile and that it could never free itself. 

So now fast forward to a fully grown elephant, weighing five tonnes or so; whenever somebody tied it to a wooden post, it always believed it could not break free. The elephant remembered the struggle, and though it had the strength and capability to break free, it would never try.

I wonder how many of us are like the trained elephants – able to ‘break free’ and fulfil our potential but deciding not to try?

It makes me think that wherever you are in life, it is always worth flexing your muscles and testing the limits of what you can achieve. Just because something wasn’t possible in the past doesn’t necessarily follow that it is not possible now. We all grow, change, and adapt as we progress through life.

So, are you like the five-tonne elephant permanently tied to a wooden post, not fully realising your potential or using the power you have? If so, what will you choose to do about it?

Until next time
Janice Taylor

My life as a list

I had almost forgotten this piece of writing – an early exercise from my life Writing course in 2017. Seeing this list, I remember enjoying the random nature of the activity and being surprised at how much flowed out of it. 

There is, I think, beauty in recalling random memories. Life is, after all, a series of moments, and these are some of mine.

I remember:

  • The scuttling of mice in the night – before being caught in our traps
  • The police on our doorstep
  • At age five, the grey Ford Anglia my father, left in the last time I saw him
  • Our African Grey parrot escaping – an open window on a hot summer’s day was all it took

I remember:

  • Long Saturday afternoons transferring sodden clothes from the washtub to the spin tub  
  • Hearing mum’s final instructions to the repairman about our twin-tub
  • Cobweb, spooked by a flying plastic bag – bolting across the field with my little sister and her little friend on her back
  • Three ducks, Gertrude, Bill and Jemima – chasing each other around in a tight circle
  • Trying not to gag – each morning, I collected eggs from their hutch

I remember:

  • Coming home from school to find, Fred our tortoise crawling along the road
  • Frozen fingers trying to fish out the pennies owed in change to customers on my paper round
  • Walking into a wall of laughter the morning – I entered the school common room with my new Afro
  • The green salad bowl mum used to cut my sister’s hair and give it shape
  • Three-inch black platform shoes and having the money to buy them
Mum

I remember:

  • Cooking fat and chips from my holiday job at Allhallows caravan park
  • Mum hovering by the kitchen doorway the day my A’Level results arrived
  • The Stanley knife on the top deck of a bus – was it meant to threaten or impress?
  • My first job appraisal after graduating – I very nearly blew it

I remember:

  • A shower of rose petals on my wedding day
  • A clear patch of radiant blue sky – the day I handed in my letter of resignation
  • Floating away on a cloud of Pethidine
  • Hearing, ‘she’s Tachycardic,’ as they wheeled me in for a Caesarean

I remember:

  • The Liverpool Care Pathway letter – handed to us at mum’s bedside
  • Sitting in the kitchen the evening she took her last breath
  • Jelly legs, the morning we arrived at the children’s hospital reception for our daughter’s operation.
  • Seeing my brother for the first time as he strolled towards us on the bus, we hired – in Mandeville
  • Horse riding in the sea at Runaway Bay, Jamaica

So, what would your life look like as a list?

Until next time

Janice Taylor

What is making you smile right now?

Realising that I needed to shake myself up a bit this month, I decided to list the things currently making me smile, making me feel better about the world and my place in it.

So, in no specific order, here is my list as we move towards the summer 😊.

Thank you Pixabay.
  • Landing a substantial piece of work to facilitate online workshops supporting diverse staff to move forward in their careers – a fantastic project to be involved with, and I am excited to see how my groups progress.   
  • My husband and I have now had our second jabs – and apart from sore arms and some tiredness, neither of us suffered any major side- effects. It is a massive relief for us to be ‘jabbed up’ and ready to go.
  • A functioning B flat key on my piano after replacing my ten-year-old Yamaha with a new Roland, the bottom of the range, but still a Roland. Now I can learn to play Beethoven’s German Dance in B flat Major😉.
  • Coaching clients, landing the roles they apply for – always good to hear this as a career coach.
  • My writing mentor continues to supply me with helpful and insightful feedback on my collection of stories. He has given me lots to think about and fresh/new way to look at how I craft my stories.
  • Holding Zoom catch-ups with some people I first met and studied with over thirty years ago – despite the years, these conversations have been a blast.
  • Remaining safe and well with my husband and daughter.
  • An evening with Hilary Mantel via the Guardian Live talks online. It was marvellous to hear her anecdote about the final scene of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy coming to her while she was queuing at the check out in Sainsbury’s. 
  • Booking our first live comedy gig of the year – I am over the moon to see the return of Brighton Comedy Garden, and we have our tickets for July.
  • For the first time in my professional life, I am delighted to be working as part of a team of coaches where I am not in the minority – enough said.
  • A chance remark (via Zoom) about the files on my shelves has led me to start some serious decluttering. I was shocked to find bus tickets and taxi receipts from twenty years ago.
  • Cold showers in the morning are still working a treat in terms of preparing me for the day.
  • Clear blue skies, warm enough, so it is possible to work outside and listen to the birdsong – even the odd caw of a seagull is welcome.
  • Schitt’s Creek, as a family, we love watching this Netflix series. It is our ray of sunshine – a place to go when things seem bleak, and the world outside is a bit too much.
  • Gogglebox – who would have thought a programme about people watching TV would be such a hit? And I am particularly enjoying Jenny and her notebook as she watches the final episodes of Line of Duty with her best friend, Lee.

What is making you smile this month?

Until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk